Record breaking value sales in June helped Britain’s builders’ merchants hit their best ever quarter since the BMBI began in July 2014, with Q2 total value sales up 24.1% on Q1 2021 on two less trading days. Ten out of the 12 product categories sold more over the period.
Compared to Q2 2020, total sales were up 96.0% in Q2 2021, with no difference in trading days. Tools (+151.4%) had the highest year-on-year increases, with Kitchens & Bathrooms (+141.3%) also reporting strong growth. These two categories were the weakest in Q2 last year. Four categories had their best-ever quarterly sales, led by Timber & Joinery Products (+134.6%) and Ironmongery (+105.9%).
June’s record-breaking sales also reflected strongly in builders’ merchants’ Q2 2021 performance compared to Q2 2019 (+20.3%) – a more normal pre-Covid year. Landscaping (+48.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+41.3%) were especially strong. Heavy Building Materials (+11.8%), Ironmongery (+7.9%) and Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+3.2%) grew more slowly.
Total sales for June 2021 were 29.5% higher than the same month last year, with all categories selling more. Timber & Joinery Products recorded its highest ever BMBI monthly sales (+57.5%), despite continuing material shortages. Heavy Building Materials also chalked up its best-ever monthly sales (+22.7%).
Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+46.6%) was the second strongest category in June 2021 compared to June 2020, while Kitchens & Bathrooms (+43.4%) had its highest sales for 12 months as pent-up demand for internal categories starts to catch up with external categories.
Compared to two years ago, total sales were up 32.3% in June 2021, helped by two more trading days this year. All categories sold more than June 2019.
The Q2 BMBI index was 149.7 with one less trading day. Eleven out of 12 product categories exceeded 100 with Landscaping (237.5) and Timber & Joinery (183.0) the strongest performers. Renewables was the only category under 100 (77.2).
Commenting on the results, Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research that produces the report, said: “It’s been a record-breaking June and a record-breaking quarter for builders’ merchants and their builder customers. Housing has been one of the big beneficiaries of the pandemic as homeowners have started spending some of their accumulated savings in lockdowns on improving their homes to make them easier to work and live in. Many people seem to be voting for working from home and the search for homes with more space in more congenial locations is driving the housing market.
“That’s good news for builders’ merchants and their builder customers because home movers generally spend heavily on home improvements before and more significantly after moving. These two mass movement trends – improving existing homes to create more space to live and work, and moving home for more space in more convenient locations – are lifting sales to new levels. While markets may calm down a little, not least because many good installers are booked into 2022 and material supply difficulties are delaying the fulfilment of demand, it’s unlikely things will go back to normal. The industry needs to prepare for servicing a generally higher level of sales.”
Developed and run by MRA Research, the BMBI – a brand of the Builders Merchant Federation – is a monthly index of builders’ merchant sales, and the most reliable, up-to-date measure of Repair, Maintenance, and Improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. The index is based on actual sales from GfK’s Builders’ Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data, which captures value sales out to builders from generalist builders’ merchants, accounting for over 80% of total sales from builders’ merchants throughout Great Britain. An in-depth review, which includes commentary by sector experts, is provided each quarter.
The Q2 2021 BMBI report is available to download at www.bmbi.co.uk.