RCI Column: Builders’ merchants’ sales are resilient in January

The latest Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report, published in March, shows that value sales to roofers and contractors in January 2021 were 3.7% lower than in January 2020, as the country went into lockdown for the third time. When adjusted for the two day difference in trading days, sales were 5.9% higher over the same period.

Three categories had higher sales in January this year: Timber & Joinery Products (+7.7%), Landscaping (+3.7%) and Workwear & Safetywear (+2.4%). However, indoor trades have been negatively impacted by a third lockdown, including Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (-11.9%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (-13.5%) and Decorating (-17.2%).

Last three months
Total sales in the three months to January 2021 were 4.4% higher than in the same period a year previously, with Timber & Joinery Products and Landscaping as the top performing categories.

Total Merchants’ January sales were 20.6% higher than in December, helped by three more trading days. Workwear & Safetywear (+39.1%) did best, with Timber & Joinery Products and Heavy Building Materials also performing well.

January’s BMBI index was 100.7, with Workwear & Safetywear the strongest at 122.3, followed by Timber & Joinery Products (120.0).

Kevin Tolson, Commercial Director Wienerberger UK and BMBI’s Expert for Bricks & Roof Tiles, comments: “The end of 2020 saw continued high demand for brick and tile products across the market, resulting in a strong finish in Q4 to round off a COVID-impacted year. Brexit also kept us busy.

“The outlook is still uncertain. We await the results of the full year impact of the Stamp Duty Holiday, but provisional data shows almost 130,000 property sales went through in December 2020, up 32% year-on-year.

“The attraction of ‘improve not move’ continues too. As the nation faces up to a potential second summer of cancelled holidays, this shows no sign of abating and we expect the demand for RMI projects to continue.

“There are further spots of optimism ahead, as we look to the Government’s response to consultations for the new proposed Part L and Part F Building Regulations on New Dwellings. The Government’s roadmap continues, focusing on energy efficiency, carbon reduction and future proofing new homes, with a drive to ensure net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Although the roadmap is behind schedule there is now a clear path forward.

“Following the consultation process, the cornerstone of the new Part L 2021 will be a fabric-first approach forming the transition into the Future Homes Standard. This provides excellent opportunities for manufacturers of construction products to optimise their role in the provision of fabric and materials to contribute to the targets. The next area to target will then be improvements to existing homes.”

This article was originally published in RCI Magazine‘s April 2021 issue

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