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Strong fourth quarter wraps up a solid year for merchants

Another set of positive sales figures for the final Quarter of 2017 published in the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) Quarter 4 report reflects the continued strength of the sector’s primary markets – private housebuilding and domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI).

Total Q4 2017 sales were up +6.3% on Q4 2016, delivering stronger growth for the quarter than the running average, which in turn helped to push the annual growth numbers. Overall, merchant sales in 2017 finished 4.8% ahead of 2016 by value.

The BMBI uses GfK’s point of sale tracking data drawn from over 80% of generalist builders’ merchants’ sales throughout the country, making it the most reliable source of data for the sector.

Looking at Q4 in detail, total growth was supported by the two biggest value categories, Timber & Joinery (+7.3%) and Heavy Building Materials (+6.4%). A number of other product categories also assisted the strong finish, notably Plumbing, Heating & Electrical, and Tools (both up by +7.7%), Ironmongery (+7.3%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+6.6%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, growth in annual sales was also driven by the largest product groups, with Timber & Joinery at +5.4% and Heavy Building Materials at 5.1%.

December slowed in comparison to both Q4 and the annual totals, but an extra trading day in 2016 hides the true performance. Growth per trading day grew faster than the annual average at +5.7%. Timber & Joinery at +8.6% was a major contributor, but internally focused categories – Plumbing Heating and Electrical +10.1%, and Kitchens & Bathrooms +8.9% – performed strongly year-on-year.

For additional, deeper category insights and benchmarking please contact Richard Frankcom at GfK.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

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

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