Sales to builders by Britain’s builders’ merchants surged in September, with sales up 8.3% compared with September 2019, according to the latest Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report.
Q3 2020 sales also increased compared to the same period last year (+1%) and were significantly up on Q2 2020 (+63.2%) when many merchants were closed. Kitchens & Bathrooms saw the strongest quarter-on-quarter recovery (+131%), but Q3 sales were down 7.1% year-on-year.
Year-on-year, landscaping Q3 sales are 24.2% up, its highest level since the index was set up in 2015. Workwear & Safetywear, up 8% compared to Q3 last year, benefited from a continued focus on PPE, while Timber & Joinery was up 3.5% over the same period.
Although year-to-date sales were lower than in 2019 due to the impact of Covid-19 closures, overall sales had recovered strongly by September. The rate of recovery however, varied between product sectors. While two sectors – landscaping materials (+1.5%) and Workwear & Safetywear (+1.2%) – are ahead of January to September 2019, Kitchens & Bathrooms have some way to go, and Heavy Building Materials is 16.1% behind the same period last year.
Mike Rigby CEO of MRA Research, which produces the BMBI reports, says: “Key product sectors related to home and garden improvement have performed particularly strongly in Q3 indicating that people spending more money on their houses and gardens was not just a lockdown phenomenon but a trend that is here to stay.
“Homeowners have accepted that the ‘new normal’ will involve spending a lot more time at home for the foreseeable future, and they are adapting their homes for homeworking. Many also have more money to spend on getting someone in to do the work properly, benefiting builders’ merchants. Interestingly this trend is mirrored in America, where the giant Home Depot and Lowe’s have seen significant Q3 sales growth for similar reasons. With many people working remotely from home, DIY and paid-for home renovations are soaring as consumers spend on changing their homes to suit the way they live now.
“Merchants are expected to remain open for business throughout the second wave of Covid-19 with RMI work levels forecast to remain high,” Mike concludes.
BMBI has also won the ‘Best Use of Research & Insight’ award at this year’s Construction Marketing Awards (CMAs).
“The BMBI has come a long way since winning ‘Best Product Launch’ at the 2017 CMAs,” says MRA’s Mike Rigby. “In the last twelve months alone, the report’s print circulation has increased by 56%, with an 85% increase online. LinkedIn followers have gone through the roof, and five new BMBI Experts joined the panel. Best of all, in the words of the CMA judges, it now reaches regularly into the heart of Government at a senior level.
“While the data generated by BMBI – and the reporting of it – is hugely valuable and reveals the trends affecting the industry, the real power of BMBI lies in the quarterly analysis and interpretation of the data by experts, who explain trends, add perspective and give meaning. For building material and product brands, it has become a powerful and extremely cost-effective channel to reach the decision makers who matter.”
John Newcomb, CEO of Builders Merchants Federation, added: “The success of BMBI has exceeded all expectations both inside and outside the industry and it’s a credit to MRA.”