Merchant sales tumble in April but recovery beckons – BMF


Total builders’ merchants sales during April were down 76.3% compared with April 2019 following coronavirus lockdown, according to the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI).

Tools took the biggest hit, down 90.0%, with kitchens and bathrooms down 86.8%. Workwear and safetywear saw the lowest year on year decline, at 60.2%, having been up 36.5% in March against the previous year.

The BMBI uses GfK’s point of sale tracking data drawn from over 80% of builders’ merchants’ sales throughout the country.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “Sadly, April’s figures come as no surprise with the majority of construction sites and builders merchants closing, or significantly reducing operations, as a first response to the government’s lockdown measures to prevent to transmission of COVID-19. 

“However, the BMF tracked the operational status of our members throughout the crisis and the majority quickly adapted their business to offer phone or online sales and, following publication of our new branch operating guidelines, many were able to open branches and trade safely. Throughout May we could see the numbers open for business increasing on a daily basis and today all are operational. 

 “With construction, housing and home improvement works all back on site, we expect the picture to improve as data for the rest of Q2 becomes available. 

 “It will be vital for the construction industry to work together to implement the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Recovery Plan in the months ahead and the BMF is involved in developing outputs to accelerate the Housing and RMI sectors, both key customer groups for builders merchants.”

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