Q4 2023 PHMI shows ‘virtually flat’ sales and volume down -5.0%

Q4 2023 PHMI shows ‘virtually flat’ sales and volume down -5.0%

Figures released in the Plumbing and Heating Merchants Index (PHMI) for the final quarter of 2023 show that total value sales growth through specialist Plumbing & Heating merchants was driven by higher prices rather than an increase in sales volume.

Quarter 4 2023 v Quarter 4 2022

Total value sales in Q3 2023 were +0.4% higher compared with the same period last year. Volume sales were down -5.0%, while prices rose by +5.6%.  With one more trading day in Q4 2023, like-for-like sales were -1.3% lower.

Quarter 4 2023 v Quarter 3 2023

Total value sales in Q4 2023 were +7.7% higher than in the previous three months, July to September 2023. With four less trading days in Q4, like-for-like sales were +14.8% higher. However, this increase was driven solely by price, which was up +10.1%, while volume sales were -2.2% lower.

Full year 2023 v 2022

Plumbing & Heating Merchants value sales in the period from January 2023 to December 2023 increased by +4.5% compared with the same period in 2022. With two more trading days in 2024, like-for-like value sales were +3.6% higher for the. year.

Once again this was driven by price. Volume sales were -2.4% lower, while prices increased by +7.1%.

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research which produces the report for the BMF, said: “Compared to the previous year, Plumbing & Heating Merchants’ value sales rose +4.5% in 2023, but volume was down -2.4%. Prices increased 7.1%.

“Despite the announcement of the UK economy entering recession, technical or not, at the end of 2023, consumer confidence continued to improve, and has improved dramatically from a low of -38 in February 2023 to a much improved -19 in January, the best it’s been in two years. It fell back two points in February to -21. But ‘optimism for our personal financial situation for the next 12 months’, one of the five component measures of GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index, did not lose ground (registering again at zero, having been as low as -18 last February).

Mike added: “This is an important metric because confident householders are more likely to spend, even in a cost of living crisis.”

The data for the PHMI is taken solely from P&H specialists, including City Plumbing Supplies, James Hargreaves Plumbing Depot, Plumbfix, PTS, Williams & Co, and Wolseley, who form part of GfK’s Plumbing & Heating Merchants Panel, and there is no overlap or double counting between the PHMI and the BMF’s established Builders Merchants Building Index which analyses sales at generalist merchants.

Visit www.phmi.co.uk for more information.

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