The Builders Merchant Building Index

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VALUE EX VAT Index Q3 2018 Q4 2018 Q1 2019 Q2 2019 Q3 2019 Q4 2019 Q1 2020 Q2 2020 Q3 2020 Q4 2020 Q1 2021 Q2 2021
Total Builders Merchants 100 124.0 110.6 112.9 122.9 123.1 106.4 105.6 76.4 124.6 111.1 120.7 149.7
Timber & Joinery Products 100 128.3 114.7 116.7 122.8 122.4 107.4 104.3 78.0 133.4 125.4 141.5 183.0
Heavy Building Materials 100 123.5 109.9 112.0 122.2 123.0 105.0 104.8 75.1 119.9 106.8 113.1 136.3
Decorating 100 116.2 106.5 107.5 111.0 116.6 106.0 102.5 56.3 108.5 99.5 101.1 112.2
Tools 100 110.1 104.7 103.0 100.2 101.4 96.0 90.3 41.0 94.4 90.7 99.6 103.0
Workwear & Safetywear 100 100.6 110.9 103.2 98.3 105.0 117.9 129.1 67.5 113.7 113.3 117.3 103.9
Ironmongery 100 123.7 115.8 120.5 122.6 124.8 113.8 112.7 65.0 123.2 112.6 119.3 133.8
Landscaping 100 140.6 98.7 105.6 157.4 142.5 95.3 102.6 138.8 175.5 112.1 141.5 237.5
Plumbing, Heating & Electrical 100 117.2 128.1 129.2 115.8 120.1 125.8 121.0 53.9 104.6 116.0 122.9 118.6
Renewables & Water Saving 100 68.7 63.6 71.2 66.3 76.7 68.3 79.2 31.5 66.4 62.6 70.3 77.2
Kitchens & Bathrooms 100 117.6 110.6 115.9 114.8 121.4 114.6 111.9 48.4 111.6 109.8 107.5 116.7
Miscellaneous 100 112.4 110.1 116.5 116.6 127.4 115.0 129.5 63.3 111.0 108.6 115.9 119.2
Services 100 116.1 106.4 98.8 113.9 118.3 107.7 102.0 72.8 115.9 107.3 110.4 127.9

Source: GfK's Builders Merchants Total Category Report - July 2015 to June 2021

Quarterly Overview - Q2 2021

At the end of Q2 2020 the Builders’ Merchant sector was coming to terms with the initial fallout of the global pandemic and had just started to re-open. Fast forward a year and this ‘lost’ quarter from last year has been replaced by Q2 2021, the best performing quarter on record. June set a new record for sales, while April and May were the third and fourth best performing respectively. Q2 figures were around 20% higher than the highest previous quarter, which was Q3 2020.

These astounding growth figures have resulted in a year to date growth of 49.2% against the first half of 2020, as well as growth of 13.5% when compared to the same timeframe for 2019. The well documented surge in house building and buying has naturally played a key role, while the stock shortages experienced across the UK hasn’t slowed down market performance.

When reviewing category performance, the growth seen in 2021 can again be traced back to the performance of the core categories, as has been the case since the first lockdown. Heavy Building Materials are up 40.4% against the first half of 2020, while also up 6.8% against the same period of 2019. Timber & Joinery, driven by the surge in Timber spending, is up 74.0% and 28.9% respectively, with Landscaping up 58.6% against 2020 and 41.9% against 2019.

In June there were fewer subcategories to see record months, but some of the noteworthy ones included Blocks, Bricks, Insulation, Lintels, Sheet Materials and Timber. It’s also worth mentioning that none of the smaller categories such as Decorating, Ironmongery and Tools saw record months in June.

The second half of the year will be fascinating to track. Forecasts made during 2021 are below the growth figures seen so far in 2021, but there’s a natural expectation that the market will start slowing down due to a combination of factors. At the forefront of these are the shortage of HGV drivers, the end of the stamp duty holiday and continuing stock management challenges. It’s therefore difficult to predict how the remainder of the year will play out, but I’m sure that most people in the Builders’ Merchant sector would rather be challenged by too much business than too little.

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