Subdued start to 2020
Total Builders’ Merchant sales in January were down 2.6% compared with January 2019. Seven categories sold less, with Timber & Joinery Products (-7.0%) weakest, followed by Tools (-6.1%) which had its lowest average sales a day since BMBI data was first recorded in July 2014. Heavy Building Materials (the largest category) was down 2.7%. Five categories sold more this year, including Workwear & Safetywear (+7.3%) and Landscaping (+3.9%).
Comparing sales between January and December is always affected by a significant difference in the number of trading days (22 in January 2020 and 15 in December 2019). As a result, total January sales were 34.4% higher.
However average sales a day provides a more meaningful comparison, with January 8.4% weaker than December. Kitchens & Bathrooms (-14.0%) and Decorating (-12.4%) were particularly low. Although still selling less each day, six categories did better than merchants overall – including Timber & Joinery Products (-5.5%) and Workwear & Safetywear (-1.8%).
Sales in the 12 months February 2019 to January 2020 were down 0.5% on the same period a year earlier, with one less trading day. Four categories sold less: Tools (-6.7%); Timber & Joinery Products (-2.0%); Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-0.8%) and Heavy Building Materials (-0.7%). The eight categories selling more included Landscaping (+2.9%), Workwear & Safetywear (+2.5%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+1.8%). Average sales a day in the last 12 months were down 0.1% overall.
January’s BMBI index was 105.3, with one additional trading day. Nine categories exceeded 100, with seasonal category Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (128.9) doing best. Workwear & Safetywear (119.9) and Ironmongery (118.4) also performed well. Landscaping (90.5) was one of only three categories below 100. The average sales a day index for January was 99.3.