Double Digit Growth for Merchants but Slowed in October 2021

Infographic showing growth for merchants in October 2021

THE LATEST Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report reveals that growth for merchants’ sales in October 2021 were 11.1% up on the previous year.

Double digit value growth in a normal year would be remarkable, but this year-on-year growth contrasts sharply with the spectacular monthly gains since summer 2020.

Eight out of 12 categories sold more in October 2021 compared to the same month in 2020, despite one less trading day this year. Timber & Joinery Products continued to top the list (+28.3%), while Landscaping (+9.5%), Heavy Building Materials (+6.5%), and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+4.7%) grew more slowly. Of the four categories that sold less, Workwear & Safetywear (-7.8%) was weakest.

Growth for Merchants

Like-for-like sales, which take trading day differences into account, were up 16.4% year-on-year.

Compared to October 2019, a pre-pandemic year, total merchant value sales were up 11.3% this October, with two less trading days. Four categories sold more, with overall growth driven primarily by the strength of Timber & Joinery Products (+34.7%) and Landscaping (+27.6%). Heavy Building Materials (+5.8%) and Services (+1.8%) sold more compared to the same month two years ago. Workwear & Safetywear (-14.6%) was again the weakest category. Total like-for-like value sales were 21.9% higher.

Compared to the previous month, total merchant sales were down -5.1% in October 2021, with one less trading day in October. Workwear & Safetywear (+8.4%), Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+3.4%) and Renewables & Water Saving (+0.9%) sold more. Seasonal category Landscaping (-13.6%) was the weakest month-on-month.

October’s BMBI index was 140.4, helped by another robust performance from Timber & Joinery Products (181.0). All bar one category recorded indices above 100, including Landscaping (148.5), Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (131.0) and Heavy Building Materials (130.8). Renewables (71.5) fell below 100.

Running Out of Steam

John Newcomb CEO of Builders Merchants Federation said, “These year-on-year results make positive reading for Britain’s builders’ merchants as total value sales remain up on 2020 and 2019. However, this latest BMBI data shows that the run of spectacular sales figures driven by unprecedented demand since July last year is starting to run out of steam.

“Month-on-month sales are stabilising at a more manageable level, which may come as a relief to merchants as they continue to navigate supply chain issues and the possibility of a winter of Covid-fuelled discontent.”

>>Read more on Merchants’s sales in the news

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