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Sales for Builders’ Merchants Grow in First Quarter

According to the most recent figures from the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI), comparatively mild and clear weather during the first three months has given 2017 a strong start.

The 5.9% growth for the first quarter was propelled by an especially strong showing in March. Sales that month were 11.4% higher than the year before, partially due to an extra two trading days resulting from a late Easter.

The latest growth rate was +2.6% per trading day for the entire quarter. The product categories that grew the quickest were tools, ironmongery, and plumbing, heating and electrical.

The ability to work in a warmer winter increased sales in other areas, with corresponding increases in timber and joinery, landscaping, and heavy building materials.

The Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) represents over 80% of the builders’ merchants’ market value. It tracks actual sales to builders and contractors using specific point of sale tracking data.

Builders Merchants Federation managing director John Newcomb said that the positive trend witnessed during the past three years continued into this one. A dry and mild winter was a great benefit to trading, but if these results are reviewed together with the Q1 SME builders state of trade survey issued by the Federation of Master Builders, the overall outlook appears to be one of optimism.

Specialists in Construction Insurance

Mr Newcomb said that the Q1 data was collected before a snap election was called by Theresa May. There is always a period of uncertainty prior to a national vote, as people pause their plans to wait for the outcome. Q2 may witness some stagnation until the new government takes firmer shape.

Another potential complication is the possibility of price inflation. In addition to affecting building prices, it could also limit the amounts that consumers are willing to spend in the home improvement market.

Mr Newcomb said that looking further ahead, more property market stability is needed. Each of the major political parties has conceded that a need exists for thousands of new properties for sale and rent, and whichever party ends up coming to power will need to deliver on those promises.


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