Published On: Thu, Jan 21st, 2021

November sales surge for builders merchants despite ‘Lockdown 2’


Total Builders Merchants November 2020 value sales surged 9.0% ahead of November 2019. This was the largest year-on-year increase since March 2019, despite the second Covid-19 lockdown taking effect from Thursday 5th November, with builders heeding the Government’s directive that construction sites should remain open.

Four categories sold more, led by strong performances from Landscaping (+29.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+16.3%). Heavy Building Materials was 8.7% higher and Ironmongery (+2.4%) grew more slowly. The other eight categories sold less, with Workwear & Safetywear (-6.0%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-5.8%) weakest.


Total Merchants November sales were 2.3% lower than in October, with one less trading day this month. Renewables & Water Saving (+4.6%) did best, with Kitchens & Bathrooms (+2.9%) and Workwear & Safetywear (+1.2%) the only other categories that sold more. Landscaping (-9.5%) did least well. Ironmongery (-3.5%) and Heavy Building Materials (-2.7%) were also weaker. Average sales a day, which take trading day differences into account, were up 2.3% on October.

Other periods

Total sales in the last three months (September to November) were 5.7% higher than the same three months in 2019. Landscaping (+25.6%) was particularly strong, with Timber & Joinery Products (+10.6%) also doing well. Among the eight categories selling less, Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-7.7%) was weakest.

Sales were up 3.3% in the last three months compared with the previous three months (June to August) and all but one of the categories sold more. Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+29.9%) had the largest increase, with this category having been hit hard during the spring and summer months. Similarly, Kitchens & Bathrooms sold 17.9% more. Only seasonal category Landscaping (-28.8%) sold less.

Year to date sales hit a low point in May (-29.2%) but have steadily improved since then. In the eleven months January to November, total sales were down 11.9% compared with the same months in 2019. Only Landscaping (+4.5%) sold more. Tools (-21.8%) was weakest, closely followed by Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-20.5%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (-19.5%).


November’s BMBI index was 123.5. Timber & Joinery Products (139.9) was strongest.