The Builders Merchant Building Index

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VALUE EX VAT Index Nov 16 Dec 16 Jan 17 Feb 17 Mar 17 Apr 17 May 17 Jun 17 July 17 Aug 17 Sep 17 Oct 17 Nov 17 Dec 17 Jan 18 Feb 18 Mar 18
Total Builders Merchants 100 113.6 77.1 94.7 100.5 122.8 106.7 121.1 120.2 119.2 120.5 117.5 123.4 121.6 76.7 102.6 104.5 112.2
Timber & Joinery Products 100 113.7 76.1 99.1 100.9 121.2 102.9 117.1 116.7 116.3 118.1 116.9 124.4 122.1 77.8 108.0 107.6 112.9
Heavy Building Materials 100 114.1 77.0 94.0 100.1 123.0 106.9 122.5 121.2 120.6 121.9 119.4 125.8 122.8 75.2 100.5 103.3 110.8
Decorating 100 110.4 76.3 92.8 97.0 115.6 98.8 111.0 111.8 114.6 116.4 110.5 115.4 114.9 76.6 101.9 100.8 106.5
Tools 100 111.3 74.8 97.6 101.7 120.7 97.2 107.0 109.9 109.8 109.1 110.4 119.2 119.8 75.3 101.3 100.0 111.2
Workwear & Safetywear 100 133.2 72.6 109.5 102.7 114.1 85.1 101.4 99.4 95.2 100.5 107.0 112.9 131 86.1 117.2 107.3 108.3
Ironmongery 100 119.9 84.6 107.5 109.4 129.2 107.5 121.6 124.5 125.6 126.9 123.4 130.6 129.5 85.5 120.4 114.8 118.0
Landscaping 100 97.2 62.4 71.0 87.7 129.5 138.1 153.1 146.9 140.8 133.2 117.1 115.8 105.8 60.0 81.3 88.0 104.8
Plumbing, Heating & Electrical 100 132.4 94.0 114.9 116.1 128.7 98.3 109.7 110.0 106.6 113.2 120.3 128.9 141.9 97.4 127.2 125.2 136.1
Renewables & Water Saving 100 73.4 42.4 68.1 76.2 90.3 68.2 70.2 69.9 66.6 71.1 69.2 78.3 82.2 46.8 75.2 76.3 79.8
Kitchens & Bathrooms 100 121.7 83.8 98.1 110.2 123.6 99.3 111.3 118.3 113.7 117.5 114.5 120.2 128.6 85.9 108.2 115.2 120.3
Miscellaneous 100 122.2 92.6 113.2 108.8 124.4 103.4 120.5 113.7 117.2 124.4 119.8 118.4 125.3 90.7 114.4 113.2 114.2
Services 100 107.1 81.3 87.8 95.0 115.0 100.6 112.4 109.7 110.6 116.1 110.6 114.0 109.2 79.0 93.1 96.4 107.3

Source: GfK's Builders Merchants Total Category Report - November 2016 to March 2018

Latest Overview

We have all seen the reports of a tough start to the year, but sales value growth from the Generalist Builders Merchants (GBM) would suggest they are the diamonds in the rough. Value growth continued in quarter one up 0.4% in absolute terms and up 2.0% per trading day year on year for the quarter.

Growth would have been stronger had it not been for the “Beast from the East” hammering the external product categories and Good Friday falling into March removing a trading day from Q1 2018. March was down -8.6% compared with March last year, as a result of two fewer trading days, but January and February’s sales compensated, at +8.4% and +4.0% respectively delivering growth for the quarter.

Quarterly growth was driven by Timber, up +2.3%, alongside multiple internal product categories, notably Plumbing and Heating (+8.0%), Kitchens and Bathrooms (+3.6%), Ironmongery (+2.1%), and Decorating (+1.2%) – all suggesting that work stayed inside due to the poor weather.

External categories fared less well with Landscaping – where garden walling and paving were particularly badly affected – down -4.9%, and the major category of Heavy Building down 0.8% with Cement and Blocks feeling the freeze.

Well, a diamond in the Rough then? They have outperformed the construction figures from the ONS, which fell 2.7% on the previous quarter (revised from -3.3% as originally published) and in addition, seem to be bucking the UK consumer’s negative outlook as seen in GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index, which was still in the doldrums. However, before we polish these diamonds, we need to see the delayed external work shift into April and then continued growth year on year in May and June. Value growth is great, but price inflation is a factor we cannot ignore and only this continued growth will really give us clarity.

For additional, deeper category insights and benchmarking please contact Richard Frankcom at GfK.

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