After a near total shutdown in April 2020, confused Government messaging meant it took time for the industry to understand it was deemed essential and to get back to work. As a result, Total Builders’ Merchants’ sales in May 2020 were almost 40% below May 2019. Against this background, May 2021 sales show significant growth compared with last year – although not reaching the dizzying levels seen last month. This report includes comparisons with 2019, to put May’s performance into context.
Total Builders Merchants May 2021 value sales were up 79.6% in May compared with the same month last year, with no difference in trading days. All categories sold more. Tools (+180.0%) did best, having been the weakest category in May 2020. Six of the remaining 11 categories more than doubled their sales this year, including Kitchens & Bathrooms (+154.9%), Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+118.1%) – both of which were particularly weak in May 2020 – and Timber & Joinery Products (+115.1%). Four categories did less well than Total Merchants, including Heavy Building Materials (+63.8%), Landscaping (+44.5%) and weakest category Workwear & Safetywear (+43.9%).
May 2021 v May 2019
Compared with two years ago, Total Merchants sales were up 7.9% in May 2021, with two less trading days this year. Only three of the twelve categories sold more, led by Timber & Joinery Products (+28.1%) and Landscaping (+26.5%). The remaining nine categories sold less, including Tools (-5.0%), Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-5.4%) and Decorating (-6.8%). Average sales a day were 19.3% higher overall, with all categories other than Miscellaneous (-0.1%) selling more.
Total sales in May were 6.1% lower than in April, with one less trading day this month. All categories sold less. Six categories did better than Total Merchants, with Timber & Joinery Products and Kitchens & Bathrooms doing best, although both down by -1.8%. Landscaping (-14.2%) was weakest. Average sales a day in May were 1.2% lower than April.
Last three months, year on year
Total sales in March to May 2021 were 110.6% higher than the same three months in 2020, helped by one more trading day this year. Tools (+179.7%) was strongest, followed by Timber & Joinery Products (+147.3%) and Landscaping (+130.8%). Only four categories failed to at least double their sales this year, with Workwear & Safetywear (+30.7%) having the smallest growth. Average sales a day across all merchants were 107.2% higher.
Last 3 months v 2019
Total Builders Merchants sales in March to May 2021 were 17.5% higher than the same three months in 2019, with no difference in trading days. Landscaping (+50.3%) did best, with Timber & Joinery Products (+33.5%) also doing well. Most categories were ahead, though less strikingly, including Heavy Building Materials (+9.9%) Ironmongery (+7.4%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+0.7%). Only Kitchens & Bathrooms (-2.4%) sold less this year.
Year to date
In the first five months of 2021, Total Merchants sales were 54.9% up on January to May 2020, with one less trading day this year. All categories sold more. Landscaping (+82.9%) has been strongest this year, followed by Timber & Joinery Products (+78.8%) and Tools (+68.4%). Heavy Building Materials (+45.3%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (+41.8%) and Decorating (+38.4%). Workwear & Safetywear (+12.5%) grew less strongly. Average sales a day were up 56.4%.
Year to date v 2019
Looking back two years, sales in the first five months of 2021 were a remarkable 9.7% up on January to May 2019, with two less trading days this year. Overall growth was driven by Landscaping (+38.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+22.8%). Six categories increased less, including Workwear & Safetywear (+9.5%), Heavy Building Materials (+3.5%) and Tools (+0.4%). The remaining four categories sold less, with Kitchens & Bathrooms (-5.3%) weakest. Average sales a day were up 11.9%.
Overall sales in the 12 months June 2020 to May 2021 were 20.8% higher than in the same 12 months a year earlier, with two more trading days in the most recent period. All categories sold more. Landscaping (+48.4%) had the highest growth over the past 12 months., with Timber & Joinery Products (+31.2%) also strong. Ten categories grew more slowly, including Tools (+17.9%), Heavy Building Materials (+16.5%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+8.5%). Average sales a day were up 19.8% overall.
May’s BMBI index was 141.4, with two less trading days. Nine of the twelve categories exceeded 100. Seasonal category Landscaping (220.5) was significantly ahead, with Timber & Joinery Products (173.2) the second-strongest. These were the only two sectors that out-performed Total Merchants. Heavy Building Materials (128.6), Ironmongery (127.0) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (112.9) were among seven categories having lower growth. Tools (98.2), Workwear & Safetywear (95.8) and Renewables (72.7) fell back. May’s average sales a day BMBI index was 154.4.