Merchant sales bounce back in May, shows BMBI

Latest figures from the May Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report have revealed an improvement in sales as lockdown restrictions ease and trades return to work.

Year-on-year, total builders merchants value sales in May were down 39.9% compared with May 2019, reflecting the cautious reopening of merchant branches with many still operating a restricted service. However, the overall trading figures were a significant improvement on April 2020 sales, which fell 76.3%.

A closer look at how individual product categories performed in May reveals that year-on-year, tools, down 66.1% and Kitchens & Bathrooms, down 62.7%, have been hit hardest by the pandemic lockdown. Workwear & Safetywear was less affected by the lockdown, with demand for PPE continuing to drive sales.

The Index uses GfK’s Builders Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data which analyses sales out data from over 80% of generalist builders’ merchants’ sales across Great Britain.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “As expected, May’s sales figures show a huge year-on-year decline, but they also indicate the strength of the initial bounce-back from April’s COVID-19 crash low-point. The massive effort by the entire supply chain to develop and implement COVID-secure working practices to enable the safe and rapid re-opening of manufacturing facilities, merchant branches and construction sites can be seen in May’s results. There is a long way to go on the road to recovery, but we can look on this as a positive first step.”

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