Builders’ Merchant sales bounce back sharply in May
After April’s unprecedented sales collapse due to the Covid-19 lockdown, trades began to return to work in May, encouraging merchants to start re-opening branches – with most still offering a restricted service. This BMBI report documents the start of what appears to be a strong bounce back.
Total Builders Merchants value sales in May were down 39.9% compared with May 2019 (a significant improvement on April, which was -76.3% less than April 2019). All categories sold less, with Tools (-66.1%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (-62.7%) hit hardest. Workwear & Safetywear (-33.4%) was affected less and Landscaping finished just 12.5% below last May. With May having two less trading days this year, overall average sales a day for the month were 33.6% lower than May 2019.
With April sales at unprecedented levels, May’s partial recovery resulted in some highly unusual month-on-month growth figures. Total merchant value sales in May were 171.3% above April 2020, with one less trading day this month. Five categories did better, lead by Tools (+308%), despite it being the weakest category year-on-year. To put this percentage growth into context, Tools revenue in May was four times that of April. Landscaping sold 278.9% more than in April and Kitchens & Bathrooms was up 210.7%. Largest category Heavy Building Materials (+157.6%) grew more slowly. Average sales a day in May across all merchants were 185.6% higher than in April.
Year to date sales in the first five months of 2020 were 29.2% down on January to May 2019, with one less trading day this year. Workwear & Safetywear (-2.7%) did best, boosted by strong demand for protective equipment. The three weakest categories were Tools (-40.4%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (-33.2%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-31.3%).
The 12 months June 2019 to May 2020 were down 14.1% on the same period a year earlier. Eight categories did better, led by Workwear & Safetywear (+1.7%), the only category that sold more. Tools (-23.3%) did least well.
May’s BMBI index was 78.7 and with the exception of seasonal category Landscaping (152.5), all categories were well down.