The Builders Merchant Building Index

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VALUE EX VAT Index Q3 2018 Q4 2018 Q2 2019 Q3 2019 Q4 2019 Q1 2020 Q2 2020 Q3 2020 Q4 2020 Q1 2021 Q2 2021 Q3 2021
Total Builders Merchants 100 124.0 110.6 122.9 123.1 106.4 105.6 76.4 124.6 111.1 120.7 149.7 146.1
Timber & Joinery Products 100 128.3 114.7 122.8 122.4 107.4 104.3 78.0 133.4 125.4 141.5 183.0 191.9
Heavy Building Materials 100 123.5 109.9 122.2 123.0 105.0 104.8 75.1 119.9 106.8 113.1 136.3 133.3
Decorating 100 116.2 106.5 111.0 116.6 106.0 102.5 56.3 108.5 99.5 101.1 112.2 112.9
Tools 100 110.1 104.7 100.2 101.4 96.0 90.3 41.0 94.4 90.7 99.6 103.0 97.6
Workwear & Safetywear 100 100.6 110.9 98.3 105.0 117.9 129.1 67.5 113.7 113.3 117.3 103.9 98.3
Ironmongery 100 123.7 115.8 122.6 124.8 113.8 112.7 65.0 123.2 112.6 119.3 133.8 126.2
Landscaping 100 140.6 98.7 157.4 142.5 95.3 102.6 138.8 175.5 112.1 141.5 237.5 184.0
Plumbing, Heating & Electrical 100 117.2 128.1 115.8 120.1 125.8 121.0 53.9 104.6 116.0 122.9 118.6 116.7
Renewables & Water Saving 100 68.7 63.6 66.3 76.7 68.3 79.2 31.5 66.4 62.6 70.3 77.2 71.2
Kitchens & Bathrooms 100 117.6 110.6 114.8 121.4 114.6 111.9 48.4 111.6 109.8 107.5 116.7 125.3
Miscellaneous 100 112.4 110.1 116.6 127.4 115.0 129.5 63.3 111.0 108.6 115.9 119.2 122.1
Services 100 116.1 106.4 113.9 118.3 107.7 102.0 72.8 115.9 107.3 110.4 127.9 132.1

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

Quarterly Overview - Q3 2021

The most recent quarter has seen a continuation of the strong growth experienced throughout 2021, but the sector is now starting to see the first signs of easing. This year has been just as unexpected as 2020 for merchants, albeit for more positive reasons. While Q3 wasn’t another record quarter, it was only -2.4% behind Q2 in absolute value and was the second-best quarter on record. Volume growth has come to a standstill in Q3, with most value growth now being driven by price increases.

Year-to-date the sector is up by 36.2% in value, with this noticeably ahead of some of the growth forecasts made at the beginning of the year. Against 2019, which is a more accurate benchmark, year-to-date growth is up by 15.1%. Further evidence of continued growth is that the year-to-date growth against 2019 at the end of Q2 was sitting at 13.5%, which is lower than the abovementioned 15.1% by the end of Q3.

Going into the drivers behind the growth, the Builders Merchants sector is very much influenced by all the heavyside activity. Year-to-date Heavy Building Materials is up by 28.6% against 2020 and 7.9% against 2019. Using the same year-to-date metric both Timber & Joinery and Landscaping have continued their astounding growth. Timber & Joinery is up 61.4% against 2020 and 35.7% against 2019, while Landscaping is up 35.9% against 2020 and 37.9% against 2019.

In the previous quarter categories such as Blocks, Bricks, Insulation, Lintels, Sheet Materials and Timber were highlighted for their record performance and this has continued strongly. Blocks, Lintels, Sheet Materials and Timber have again had record quarters, with Bricks and Insulation not far behind Q2’s record figures.

The final quarter of the year should see further sales easing, but still moving along very well. Supply chain issues are reducing, but wider UK market sentiment suggests this could persist until 2023. Pricing will most likely continue to drive any value growth. It’s safe to say that the final year figures will be noticeably ahead of initial forecasts, but we expect that 2022 will see a decline against this most exceptional year.

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