Builders’ Merchant Q1 Value Sales Fell -7.2% Year-On-Year, As Volumes Slide -8.7%

by | Jun 11, 2024 | Trade News

The latest Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report reveals builders’ merchants’ value sales in Q1 2024 were -7.2% down compared to Q1 2023, with volume sales falling -8.7% and prices edging up +1.6%. With one less trading day in Q1 2024, like-for-like sales (which take the number of trading days into account) were -5.7% lower.

Just three of the twelve categories sold more in Q1, year-on-year, with Workwear & Safetywear (+11.5%) out in front. The two largest categories – Timber & Joinery Products (-10.6%) and Heavy Building Materials (-9.4%) – both sold less. Renewables & Water Saving (-26.5%) was the weakest category.

Quarter-on-quarter, total value sales for Q1 2024 were up +3.5% compared to Q4 2023. Volume sales were +3.9% higher and prices were flat (-0.4%). With three additional trading days in the most recent period, like-for-like sales were -1.4% lower. All but one category sold more with Landscaping (+14.6%) growing the most, followed by Tools (+6.0%). Renewables & Water Saving (-6.6%) was the only category to sell less.

Quarter 1 total value sales were negatively impacted by slow sales in March. Total Builders Merchants value sales for the month fell -13.6% compared to March 2023. Volume sales dropped -14.0% while prices edged up +0.5%. With three less trading days in March this year, like-for-like sales were -0.6% lower.

All categories sold less in March, but Workwear & Safetywear (-0.4%), Decorating (-5.0%), Landscaping (-6.8%), Tools (-9.2%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (-9.8%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-11.9%) fell less than Total Merchants. The two largest categories – Heavy Building Materials (-15.2%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-17.7%) – were significantly down on the same month last year.

Month-on-month, Total Merchants sales were +3.7% higher in March 2024 than in February 2024. Volume sales were up +4.7% and price was down -1.0%. Half of the twelve categories sold more with two of the largest categories, Landscaping (+20.1%) and Heavy Building Materials (+3.9%), outperforming Total Merchants. Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-4.1%) and Renewables & Water Saving (-4.7%) lagged other categories.

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research who produce this report, said: “Exceptionally wet weather in Q1 and a hold on interest rates did little to revive the faltering newbuild market. The National House Building Council (NHBC) recently confirmed that new home registrations in Q1 were down 20% on last year, and this drop in demand has been felt throughout the supply chain.

“Despite the clouds hanging over the sector – figuratively and literally – there may be a break ahead. The latest ONS data for Q1 shows a marked increase in new construction orders (+15.9% quarter-on-quarter), buoyed by private commercial orders for offices, health and entertainment premises, while GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index shows another 2-point increase in consumer confidence in April, following a positive March. The consumer confidence Overall Index Score is still negative (-19), but it’s a vast improvement on the picture a year before, with five of the underlying measures significantly better than April last year. Could lowering inflation and the promise of tax and interest rate relief and the prospect of a new Government be boosting consumer confidence? If so, it could be a welcome shot in the arm for the housing market – and merchants and their suppliers – as we head into summer.”

The Q1 2024 BMBI report is available to download at


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