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Builders merchant recovery continues more slowly in August

By October 22, 2020 No Comments

Total builders’ merchants value sales were 3.9% lower in August 2020 than in August 2019, according to the latest Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report, with one less trading day this year. Three categories did better, with Landscaping (+16.3%) being the top performer. Workwear & Safetywear (+1.8%) was the only other category to exceed last year, while Timber & Joinery Products sold 2.0% less. The remaining nine categories were weaker, including the largest category Heavy Building Materials (-5.8%), Decorating (-10.8%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-13.7%). Average sales a day, which takes trading day differences into account, were 0.9% up on August 2019.

Over the first eight months of 2020, total sales were down 18.4% compared with January to August 2019, with Workwear & Safetywear (+1.3%) being the only category that sold more. Tools (-29.4%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (-26.0%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-25.8%) were weakest and still have much ground to make up in recovering sales lost during the Covid-19 lockdown period.


Total builders’ merchants sales in August were 14.2% lower than in July, which had three more trading days, with all categories selling less than in the previous month. Kitchens & Bathrooms (-4.3%) performed best, followed by Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-7.6%). Heavy Building Materials (-13.5%) performed a little better than merchants generally. The two weakest categories were Workwear & Safetywear (-25.3%) and Landscaping (-24.5%). Average sales a day were 1.3% lower in August than July.

Other periods

Sales in the last three months (June to August) were down 1.0% overall compared with the same three months in 2019, with one more trading day this year. Season-category Landscaping (+30.9%) was strongest, while Workwear & Safetywear (+7.9%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+0.4%) were the only other categories that sold more. The nine selling less included Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-17.3%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (-14.4%) and Tools (-10.4%). Average sales a day across the three months were 2.5% lower than last year.

Sales were up 73.8% during the last three months compared with the previous three months (March to May), when many merchant branches were closed branches as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. Six categories did better, led by Tools (+124.1%). Kitchens & Bathrooms sold 91.0% more and Timber & Joinery Products was up 82.5%. With two more trading days in June to August, average sales a day were 63.1% higher.

More information about the BMBI can be found at