Total Builders Merchants value sales to builders and contractors in May 2019 were flat (+0.0%) compared with the same period in 2018, say the BMBI.
Categories such as Landscaping, which had previously seen three months of double-digit growth, increased by only 0.4% in May compared to last year. The strongest category was Workwear & Safetywear (+4.2%).
Timber & Joinery Products (+0.9%) and Heavy Building Materials (+0.3%) saw marginal sales increases year-on-year. Other sectors such as Tools (-5.4%), Decorating (-1.9%), Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (-2.0%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (-2.3%), reported lower sales over the period.
Month-on-month, Total Builders Merchants sales were up 6.0% in May. Sectors that performed well on a month-by-month unadjusted basis included Landscaping (+10.7%), Heavy Building Materials (+ 6.7%), Tools (+5.0%) and Decorating (+4.9%).
However, the adjusted May 2019 figures, which take into account the trading day difference, show that on a like-for-like basis, Total Builders Merchants’ sales in May were just 1% higher than April. Only two categories – Landscaping and Heavy Building Materials – saw sales increase.
May’s BMBI index was 129.3, with Landscaping the highest category at 171.1 – and its highest index to date.
Nigel Cox, Managing Director Timbmet and BMBI’s Expert for Timber & Panel Products (pictured), commented: “Contingency planning for Brexit took up significant time in Q1. Ensuring continuity of supply was of the utmost importance as we sought clarity on importing protocols and procedures. Stock levels were increased to cover all eventualities so Q2 started in a healthy stock position.
“Timber and panel products continued to outperform many of the sectors in Q1, but it was clear that the economic uncertainty has impacted on consumer confidence.
“Product availability is generally good. Producers have addressed the supply issues with panel products. Hardwood timber demand continues to increase for European and American timbers. There is also strong demand from developing markets such as India, Australasia and Latin America.
“African timber supply remains under pressure with the availability of Sapele, Iroko and Idigbo all a concern. The demand for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) material is putting producers under increased pressure.
“With an increasingly environmentally aware audience, products certified by the FSC from sustainably managed sources are becoming more and more sought after.
“The Timber Trade Federation (TTF), Wood Protection Association (WPA) and Timber Decking and Cladding Association (TDCA) are working to help produce clear guidance for cladding systems.
“The group will look at the importance of fire rated materials, construction products regulations and quality assurance schemes for fire rated products and installation.”
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