Merchants’ October sales remain subdued

After a strong start to the year, the uncertain economic climate has continued to impact negatively on merchants’ sales into October 2019. Total Builders Merchants’ sales in October were down 4.4% compared with the same period in 2018, on an equal number of trading days.

The best performing sectors in October were Workwear & Safetywear (+9.0%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+4.1%), with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+0.3%) also showing marginal growth. Among categories with a weaker performance were Tools (-9.2%) and Timber & Joinery (-7.2%). Landscaping (-5.4%) and Heavy Building Materials (-4.9%) also performed less well year-on-year.

The picture was more positive month-on-month, as total October 2019 sales were up by 6.0% compared with September. Most product categories saw relatively strong growth month-on-month, at least on an unadjusted basis, including Timber & Joinery, for which sales increased by 6.8%, and Heavy Building Materials (+5.7%). However, when adjusted for the two-day trading difference, Total Builders’ Merchants’ sales were down by 3.2%.

Sales in the rolling 12 months November 2018 to October 2019 were up 0.5% on the same period last year. Year-to-date sales (January to October) also remained positive but were only 0.5% ahead of last year in October, down from 5.9% in March.

October’s BMBI index was 126.0, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical the highest at 141.5.

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About the BMBI

Produced by MRA Marketing, the Builders Merchant Building Index report contains data from GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel, which analyses data from over 80 of generalist builders’ merchants’ sales throughout Great Britain. The full report with index tables and charts is available to download at

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