Extra days lift merchants’ April takings

Builders’ merchants’ takings were up 3.9% in April, year-on-year, but down 11.0% on a like-for-like (per day) basis.

Sales volumes increased 4.7% year-on-year and prices were down by 0.8%.

Categories that grew strongly included workwear & safetywear (up nearly 30%), decorating (14%) and plumbing/heating & electrical (13%). The three largest categories grew more slowly, with heavy building materials up 1.4%, timber & joinery products also just 1.4%) and landscaping  by 3.2%.

Month-on-month, takings in April were 5.0% up on March and sales volumes increased by 7.4%; prices were down 2.3%. With one more trading day in April, like-for-like takings were flat.

Total merchant sales revenue in the 12 months from May 2023 to April 2024 were 4.7% lower than the same period the year before (May 2022 to April 2023). Volumes slumped 9.6% and prices rose 5.4%. With four extra trading days in the most recent 12-month period, like-for-like takings were down 6.3%.

Mike Rigby, managing director of MRA Research, which produces the BMBI report, said: “Heavy rainfall and strong winds again disrupted construction output, with the latest ONS data reporting all bar two sectors contracting in April. Private new housing (-4.4%) and private repair and maintenance (-2.5%) were the biggest losers year-on-year.

“On the face of it, the forecasts for the economic headwinds which are impacting new building works and RMI projects aren’t looking much better. Interest rates are holding firm at 5.25% and any chance of a cut is likely to be at least August. Inflation has finally dropped to +2.3% yet prices are still increasing, and some goods are increasing more than others which is squeezing many household budgets.”

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