Following the global pandemic which saw sales plummet for builders´ merchants throughout the year, particularly in the months from March to May, September 2020 has seen a surge in sales which are up 8.3% compared with September 2019, according to the latest report by the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI).
Landscaping came out as the strongest category over the period at +31.2%, although this does include and extra trading day. For year-on-year, sales for landscaping were up a whopping 24.2% – the highest since records on the index started in 2015.
Q3 saw an increase of 1% compared to Q3 of 2019 for total builders´ merchants value sales. Work and safety wear received a boost from Covid of +8% with a focus on PPE, whilst Timber and Joinery sales increased 3.5% over the same period. Heavy building materials saw a drop of -1.0%.
As an indication of the rate of recovery, year-to-date sales have varied between sectors. Sales overall had largely recovered by September and although Landscaping and Workwear saw growth in sales above those in 2019, Heavy Building Materials are 16.1% behind the same period last year, indicating that many projects are either delayed or on hold with confidence to begin new projects yet to return.
August’s BMBI index was 124.6. Landscaping (175.5) was strongest, followed by Timber & Joinery Products (133.4).
Stacey Temprell, Marketing Director British Gypsum and BMBI’s Expert for Drylining Systems comments: “Compared to Q2, our performance was much stronger between July and September. The improvement was driven by the new-build market continuing in a Covid-safe environment, and the home improvement pound with vast numbers of people spending more time at home keen to improve their living, and their home-working space.
“With homeowners now able to take advantage of the Government’s Green Homes Grant, we are likely to see an increased demand for our internal wall insulation solutions over the Winter months. For this incentive to truly generate the green benefits it intends, homeowners will only be able to use installers who have been ‘certified’ and attended an accredited installation course, such as our own Internal Wall Insulation course.
“The new build residential market continues to be buoyant and a number of factors are contributing to this, including the Stamp Duty Holiday announced in Q2. Our housebuilder customers are reporting an increase in the need for available, semi-skilled labour on site, and this trend is reflected in the high levels of enrolment numbers we are seeing in courses such as our Site Ready Skimming Course. It’s precisely these sorts of practical, high-intensity upskilling courses that will support today’s skills demand and enable semi-skilled trades people to secure work on site.
“The severe economic impact of COVID-19 will continue to be felt as we enter 2021. And while Brexit was bumped by the pandemic from the headlines, it’s very much on business agendas, as we all make certain we are as prepared as we can be to ensure continuity of supply for the construction industry. Q4 trading is likely to get a final boost as companies stock build in anticipation of uncertainty about a deal, on the approach to a Brexit agreement deadline.”