BMBI year-on-year sales growth in double digits but returning to trend

The latest Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report reveals that builders’ merchants’ October 2021 value sales were 11.1% up on October 2020. Double digit value growth in a more normal year would be remarkable, but this relatively modest year-on-year growth contrasts sharply with spectacular gains since summer 2020, as confidence returned after the country emerged from Lockdown One.

Eight out of twelve categories sold more in October 2021 compared to the same month in 2020, despite one less trading day this year. Timber & Joinery Products continued to top the list (+28.3%), while Landscaping (+9.5%), Heavy Building Materials (+6.5%), and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+4.7%) grew more slowly. Of the four categories that sold less, Workwear & Safetywear (-7.8%) was weakest.

Like-for-like sales, which take trading day differences into account, were up 16.4% year-on-year.

Compared to October 2019, a pre-pandemic year, total merchant value sales were up 11.3% this October, with two less trading days. Four categories sold more, with overall growth driven primarily by the strength of Timber & Joinery Products (+34.7%) and Landscaping (+27.6%). Heavy Building Materials (+5.8%) and Services (+1.8%) sold more compared to the same month two years ago. Workwear & Safetywear (-14.6%) was again the weakest category. Total like-for-like value sales were 21.9% higher.

Compared to the previous month, total merchant sales were down -5.1% in October 2021, with one less trading day in October. Workwear & Safetywear (+8.4%), Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+3.4%) and Renewables & Water Saving (+0.9%) sold more. Seasonal category Landscaping (-13.6%) was the weakest month-on-month.

October’s BMBI index was 140.4, helped by another robust performance from Timber & Joinery Products (181.0). All bar one category recorded indices above 100, including Landscaping (148.5), Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (131.0) and Heavy Building Materials (130.8). Renewables (71.5) fell below 100.

John Newcomb CEO of the BMF (Builders Merchants Federation) comments: “These year-on-year results make positive reading for Britain’s builders’ merchants as total value sales remain up on 2020 and 2019. However, this latest BMBI data shows that the run of spectacular sales figures driven by unprecedented demand since July last year is starting to run out of steam. Month-on-month sales are stabilising at a more manageable level, which may come as a relief to merchants as they continue to navigate supply chain issues and the possibility of a winter of Covid-fuelled discontent.”

Developed and run by MRA Research, the BMBI – a brand of the Builders Merchants 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.

October’s BMBI report, published in December, is available to download at

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