A solid October for merchants
Total merchant sales in October were the highest since GfK began compiling BMBI sales data in July 2014 – a potential cause for celebration. However we cannot ignore likely the impact of inflation, with many sectors reporting substantial price increases over the past 12 months. That said, merchants significantly out-performed ONS Construction Output in October and show no sign of the predicted weaker autumn trading.
Year on Year
Total Builders’ merchant value sales were up 10.0% in October 2017 compared with October last year, helped by one additional trading day. Among top categories were Tools (+12.3%), Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+11.4%) and Heavy Building Materials (11.1%). All categories sold more this year and Heavy Building Materials (the largest category) and Timber & Joinery Products (second largest) saw their highest monthly sales to date. Average sales a day (which take account of trading days) were up 5.0% in October for merchants overall.
Month on month
One more trading day helped October sales increase by 5.0% compared with September. Tools (+7.9%) and Timber & Joinery Products (6.4%) were among four categories that did better than merchants generally. Seasonal category Landscaping (-1.2%) sold less. Average sales a day in October exceeded September by 0.3%. Eight categories sold more, including Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+2.2%).
The latest three months (August to October) were 6.2% up on the same three months in 2016, with an equal number of trading days. Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+9.3%), Tools (+8.0%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+7.9%) grew more strongly and all categories saw gains.
Year-to-date sales (January to October) were 4.9% ahead of the same period last year and the rolling 12 months (November 2016 to October 2017) were 5.4% better than the preceding 12 months (+5.0% adjusted for a difference of one trading day).
October’s Building Merchant Building Index was 123.4 (116.4 adjusted for trading days). Ironmongery (130.6) was highest.
For additional, deeper category insights and benchmarking please contact Richard Frankcom at GfK.