Blog – Stronger second quarter for merchants

Total builders’ merchant value sales to builders and contractors were up 7.2% in Q2 compared with Q2 2017, helped by one more trading day this year. Average sales a day (which mitigate for trading day differences) were 5.5% higher.

Timber & Joinery Products did particularly well and had a major impact on total value growth this quarter, up 9.5% year-on-year. Sheet Materials sub category was a big contributor, with its quarterly growth percentage hitting the high teens. Heavy Building Materials also showed strong growth in Q2, up 6.3% year-on-year.

Compared with Q1 2018, total value sales in Q2 were 16.9% higher, despite one less trading day. This in part reflects seasonality but is likely to include some work that was postponed from a weather-hindered first quarter. Landscaping, a particularly seasonal category, was 70.2% higher. Average sales a day overall were up 18.7% over this period.

Looking at the year to date, total builders’ merchants’ sales in the first six months of 2018 increased by 4.0% compared with the same six months of 2017.

Malcolm Gough, Group Sales & Marketing Director Talasey Group and BMBI’s Expert for Natural Stone Landscaping Products, Vitrified Paving & Artificial Grass comments: “The sun came out in Q2 and as the summer kicks off, so does activity in the stone trade. A heatwave isn’t always a good thing though – there are hazards on site and it can slow things down.

“The porcelain paving market has now really come into its own. The homeowner now understands the product and it is very much in demand. As a result of more and more contactors discovering porcelain, the demand for training is also on the rise. One threat to the market is the growing number of cheaper imports coming from overseas: Turkey, China and even India.

“Despite a very slow start to the year the artificial grass market has truly taken off. It is now an accepted norm for smaller gardens and homeowners with little time for mowing the lawn. The market has surely been helped by the heatwave where so many lawns have suffered. An artificial lawn still needs some protection in the heat though – the product you buy should always have a UV sun-damage protection guarantee.

“It’s been an unusual year for all-weather brush-in sands. This is probably the first time I’ve ever heard of a major shortage for this specialised product. The reason is the main ingredient is used in another market which is also experiencing high demand. This situation is likely to last for some time, so I’d advise merchants to stock up.”

BMBI Experts speak exclusively for their markets, explaining trends, issues and opportunities. To download the latest report, visit

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