Subdued February – before COVID-19 hit

Having endured three and a half years of Brexit turmoil, the country now faces a far bigger challenge and greater uncertainty. The BMBI February report pre-dated social distancing (which started on 19 March) and the lockdown (which took effect on 24 March), hence builders’ merchants’ February trading will not have been much affected by the emerging Coronavirus pandemic.

Year-on-year

Total Builders’ Merchant sales to roofers, builders and contractors in February were down 1.3% compared with February 2019. Three categories were weaker: Timber & Joinery Products (-6.9%); Tools (-4.0%) and Heavy Building Materials (-1.9%). Among the seven categories that sold more this year, Workwear & Safetywear showed strong growth (+30.8%) driven by higher demand for protective equipment (including masks, goggles and gloves).

Month-on-month

Compared with January, sales in February increased +2.2% despite having two fewer trading days. Eight categories sold more, led by Landscaping (+16.5%). Kitchens & Bathrooms (+7.8%) and Workwear & Safetywear (+6.8%) also did well. Four categories sold less, including Timber & Joinery Products (-2.2%) and Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (-1.5%).

Index

February’s BMBI index was 107.6. Ten of the twelve categories exceeded 100, led by Workwear & Safetywear (128.0). The Index for Heavy Building Materials was 106.2.

For the full report, click here.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.

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