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Merchant sales figures drop

The latest sales indicators from the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) show that sales of building materials fell dramatically in the last quarter of 2012.

Sales, when adjusted for both inflation and trading day differences, fell by 16.7% in Q4 (October to December 2012) compared with the preceding Quarter (July to September 2012). However, sales in Q4 2012 were 2.1% up on sales in Q4 2011.

The BMF’s 12-month comparison was also down by 0.3% over the previous 12 month period.

Once again sales in Greater London were the weakest in the country, with builders’ merchants in the city reporting a quarterly year-on-year reduction of -9.4%. Greater London sales were also weakest in Q3. Wales (+9.4%) and Scotland (+8%) reported the strongest quarterly year-on-year results.

Commenting on the figures, BMF Secretary, Peter Matthews, said: “Q4 is traditionally quieter than Q3 as the extended holiday break on many construction sites makes December a short working month, but the fall in sales is striking. The continuing weakness of sales of building materials in the Greater London area may be an indicator of concern, as this is one of the country’s strongest economic areas.

“At first glance the BMF figures are somewhat at odds with the ONS figures released earlier this month, showing a very slight (0.9%) rise in construction in Q4 over Q3. However the ONS also reports a 3.1% fall in output between October and November for the first time in three years.

“Construction continues to rumble along at the bottom of its longest ever recession. No one yet has an answer as to when that situation will end.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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