The Pulse

The Pulse – COVID-19 hits April sales and confidence


The government’s announcement on 23rd March to close all non-essential businesses to contain the Coronavirus put Britain into lockdown overnight. The impact on the construction supply chain was chaotic and confusing. Government – it emerged later – had not intended all of construction to close, but its statements failed to make that clear, or which parts were deemed essential and which not. The effect on the supply chain was like a train crash. Some, knowing they were essential to enable the NHS, utilities, and key workers to function, stayed open. But construction sites had to close when merchants closed: proof, if it was needed, of the crucial importance of builders’ merchants to the UK. The domino effect was unprecedented, unforeseen, and abrupt. Within days almost all of construction had stopped.

The BMF and other trade bodies and the Construction Leadership Council acted rapidly to clarify Government intentions, successfully persuading The Secretary of State, Alok Sharma to issue an open letter stating clearly that construction is essential.

The Pulse, a monthly tracking survey by MRA Research of merchants’ confidence and prospects exclusive to Professional Builders’ Merchants, usually takes place at the beginning of each month. But with COVID disrupting so much and causing many closures, interviewing took place between the 20th and 28th of April. At the point of research, many merchants had reopened with restrictions, while others were still closed. 

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The Pulse is a monthly trends survey that tracks builders’ merchants’ confidence and prospects over time and is produced by MRA Research, the market research division of MRA Marketing. Find out more here and look out for the next report in the June edition of PBM!

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