February sales growth driven by outside trades
Year on year
Extreme weather can make comparisons difficult. Twelve months ago the country was hit by the ‘Beast From the East’, which spanned late February and early March. While construction was affected (especially outside trades), merchants sold 4.1% more in February 2018 than in February 2017. Against this background, Total Builders Merchant value sales in February 2019 were up 4.1% compared with February 2018 – and up 8.2% compared with February 2017.
A relatively dry and mild February this year helped outside trades. Landscaping (+11.6%) and the largest categories Heavy Building Materials (+4.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+4.3%) did better than merchants overall. Decorating (+2.5%) grew more slowly and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+0.4%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+0.0%) were flat.
Month on month
With February having two fewer trading days, sales were 0.9% higher than in January. Average sales a day (which takes trading day differences into account) were up 11.0%. Four categories did better, including Landscaping (+24.1%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (+15.8%) and Heavy Building Materials (+11.6%). Tools (+9.4%), Timber & Joinery Products (+7.6%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+5.7%) were among six categories that grew more slowly. Only Workwear & Safetywear (-4.5%) sold less each day.
Cumulative sales for January and February were 4.5% ahead of the same period last year. Landscaping (+9.4%) was strongest, with Heavy Building Materials and Timber & Joinery Products both up 5.3%.
The rolling 12 months March 2018 to February 2019 were 3.6% above the same period a year earlier, with one less trading day. Timber & Joinery did best (+6.6%). Average sales a day in the period were 4.0% higher.
February’s BMBI index was 108.7, the highest February BMBI index to date. Plumbing Heating & Electrical was top (125.7). The average sales a day Index for February was 112.8.