A positive start for merchants in 2019
Total Builders Merchants value sales to builders and contractors in January 2019 were up 5.0% compared with January 2018. Four categories did better, including the two biggest: Timber & Joinery Products (+6.2%) and Heavy Building Materials (+6.1%). Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+2.8%) and Decorating (+2.7%) were among five categories that grew more slowly and Workwear & Safetywear (-4.9%) was one of three that sold less.
Total sales in the three months November 2018 to January 2019 were 2.3% higher than the same period a year earlier. Timber & Joinery Products (+4.4%) was strongest, with Landscaping (+4.1%) close behind.
The rolling 12 months February 2018 to January 2019 were 3.6% above the same period a year earlier, with one less trading day. Ten of the twelve categories sold more. Timber & Joinery (+6.8%) did best, followed by Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+6.5%). Average sales a day in the period were 4.0% higher.
January’s BMBI index was 107.8, with one additional trading day and was the highest January BMBI index to date. Plumbing, Heating & Electrical was top (130.8). The average sales a day Index for January was 101.6.
Andrew Simpson, National Commercial Director Hanson Cement and BMBI’s Expert for Cement & Aggregates, comments: “Seasonally adjusted demand for construction products finished strongly in Q4 2018. This had a positive effect on the overall performance for 2018, said the Mineral Products Association (MPA) in its latest report.
“The Construction Products Association (CPA) downgraded its latest forecast to 0.3% growth in 2019 because of uncertainty surrounding Brexit. In contrast however, Hanson has had a positive start to 2019 and most merchants and suppliers we have spoken to have also seen volumes higher than expected. If the industry associations are right, construction is in for challenging times in 2019 with political uncertainty and continuing delays to major Government projects.
“The most recent BMBI debate covered some interesting topics that will impact the merchant sector. One that the industry can influence is ‘changes in buyer behaviour and how we sell’. We’ve seen the impact the internet has had on high street retailers and how consumers have changed their shopping habits. We’ve not yet seen the same dramatic change in buyer behaviour in our sector, and there’s been much debate as to why. There will be many reasons, and we must be careful not to generalise as our sector is very diverse. We will be better served if merchants and suppliers collaborate closely to improve what we already do. Between us we have far more product and industry knowledge than potential online disrupters. We need to use technology to our advantage to improve our processes, data, training, logistics, customer interaction, and overall end user experience. The aim is to have frictionless transactions that meet the expectations of customers throughout the supply chain.”
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