Builders Merchants sales ‘buck the trend’

Builders Merchants sales continue to be strong, according to new data.

The Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) showed that third-quarter sales increased by 5.2% on the same quarter last year.

Kitchens and bathrooms (+8.2%) and plumbing, heating and electrical (+7.4%) were among the strongest performers in the market.

Total merchants’ average sales per day increased by 6.9%, according to the index.

However, when comparing quarter on quarter sales actually slowed, with Q3 falling by 2.2%.

In the nine months to September 2017, sales were up by 4.3%, ahead of the same period in 2016. Average sales per day also saw growth, rising by 4.9%.

John Newcomb (pictured), BMF chief executive, said: “Builders merchants’ sales frequently show a small dip in Q3 after an annual peak in Q2 and this year was no exception. Builders’ merchants will point to the increase in year-on-year sales as a more useful indicator.

“The merchant sector has shown resilience throughout the first three quarters of 2017. We remain confident that it will continue to prosper as we approach the end of the year, and maintain that momentum into 2018.”

GfK senior client insight manager Richard Frankcom commented: “Builders’ merchants continue to buck the trends seen across most areas of the retail market. However, we saw a steady rise in inflation during Q3, starting in July at 2.7% and rising to 3.0% by September, which led to the first rise in interest rates since July 2007.

“As we have only been tracking the data used in the BMBI for 39 months, we are yet to fully appreciate the correlation between merchant sales and wider economic indicators. Will we see a slow down over the coming months, or will the UK’s demand for new or upgraded properties continue to drive this sector? Only time will tell.”

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