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Strong finish to 2016 cements year of growth for Builders Merchants

Another strong set of results for the final quarter of 2016 completes a further year of growth in sales of building materials through UK builders merchants. The latest figures from the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) Q4 report show that generalist merchants generated annual revenues in excess of GBP5.44bn with sales value growth of 5.2% on 2015.

Total merchant sales in the BMBI report for Q4 2016 were up 5.5% on the same period in 2015. A warmer, drier autumn extended the season for external works. Landscaping (up 10.3%) and Heavy Building Materials (up 7.1%) were the two best performing categories in Q4, the latter driven by several key sub-categories including roofing products, lintels and plasterboards.

Two further categories outperformed the total market in Q4. Sales of Kitchens and Bathrooms increased by 5.9% year on year and Ironmongery rose by 5.6%.

The Q4 period had five fewer trading days than Q3 2016, so in most cases quarter on quarter sales were lower. However, Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (up 8%) was one of two categories to record an increase. Sales of Workwear and Safetywear also rose by 6.1%.

GfK’s Builders’ Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data, which represents over 80% of the value of the builders’ merchant market, is used to create the Builders Merchant Building Index of actual sales to builders.

GfK Channel Account Manager, Ricky Coombes believes that consumer confidence levels provide a good indicator of potential future spend on areas such as property and home improvements, which directly impact builders’ merchants’ sales.

He said:
“GfK’s Consumer Confidence Barometer at the end of 2016 was at the same level as post-recession 2014. Confidence is being propped up by consumers’ positive outlook on their own personal financial situation. Even though they expect price increases in 2017, these are yet to be felt.”

We should keep a close eye on this barometer as the year continues and inflation increases.

To access the full report for free, including the latest figures for January, please visit