Introducing ‘the Pulse’

Introducing ‘the Pulse’

PBM has teamed up with MRA Research to present ‘the Pulse’ — a new, regular ‘trends survey’ on the builders’ merchant marketplace.

The merchant sector is constantly changing — influenced by the wider construction industry, trading conditions, the state of the economy, regulations and performance standards, international trade and of course market and product trends, which may be driven by product and technological developments as well as fashion! And we still don’t know how Brexit might affect the overall construction market, or how it will affect merchants…

Market changes often happen gradually, but it’s important to be ahead of the game and track these as they start to emerge. That is why MRA Research, the specialist research division of MRA Marketing, will be monitoring critical trends in the sector each month, assessing how the key influencing factors on the merchants’ marketplace, as well as attitudes and sentiments, are developing.

The survey will track builders’ merchants’ activity, views and expectations of trends and issues affecting their business, including sales expectations, problems, stocks, manufacturer promotions and support, prices and margins.

Currently, the builders’ and plumbers’ merchants’ markets are affected by price increases and concerns over supply, especially for imported products, because of the uncertainty over the conditions attached to Brexit at the time of writing.

There are also reports of stockpiling in the supply chain, leading to increased pressure on space, as well as changes to demand, though this is expected to be short-term. But whether these will continue to be important issues in the medium term remains to be seen, and MRA will aim to gather merchants’ views and expectations on all these issues and more.

The tracker survey will examine overall expectations and confidence among merchants, but will also take a look at specific product sectors. To give context to the findings, the results will also be analysed against an economic and specific market background.

MRA Research will ensure the research is representative, and will use StockistBase — its in-house database of national and independent merchants — for interviewing. MRA has developed and maintained this for over 20 years for the purposes of research work and direct marketing campaigns. Individual responses will not be attributed to individual persons or companies.

Previously known as Rigby Research, MRA Research is one of the UK’s longest standing research and insight companies solely serving construction, building materials and home improvement markets. MRA also set up and manages the award-winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report since 2015 in partnership with GfK and the Builders Merchants Federation.

The first report appeared in the July/August edition of PBM and can be viewed here. The full monthly and quarterly reports will be available from as well as on MRA Research’s website at

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