Subdued start to 2020

At the time of gathering the data for this report, our sector had yet to experience the more widespread scale and impact of the Covid-19 crisis we are seeing today. Nevertheless, it’s been a slow start for merchant sales.


Total Builders’ Merchant value sales to roofers, builders and contractors in January 2020 were down -2.6% compared to January 2019. Seven categories sold less, with Timber & Joinery Products (-7.0%) weakest, followed by Tools (-6.1%) which had its lowest average sales a day since BMBI data was first recorded in July 2014. Heavy Building Materials (the largest category) was down -2.7%.


Sales between January and December are always affected by a significant difference in the number of trading days (22 in January 2020 and 15 in December 2019). As a result, total January sales were up +34.4%. However average sales a day (adjusted) provides a more meaningful comparison, with January down -8.4% compared to December.

Other periods

Sales in the 12 months February 2019 to January 2020 were marginally down -0.5% on the same period a year earlier, with one less trading day. Four categories sold less: Tools (-6.7%), Timber & Joinery Products (-2.0%), Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-0.8%) and Heavy Building Materials (-0.7%).


January’s BMBI index was 105.3, with one additional trading day. For Heavy Building Materials it was slightly lower at 103.8.

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