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  |  Housing   |  Builders’ Merchants’ sales up by 9% despite second lockdown

The latest Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report confirms that esteem sales to builders and contractors by Britain’s builders’ merchants in November 2020 saw its biggest year-on-year increase since Mar 2019, in spite of stricter COVID-19 restrictions being set up for the most of the month.


With builders heeding the Government’s mandate to keep construction sites open, complete sales in Nov 2020 were 9.0% higher than in Nov 2019.

Growth over the time period was driven primarily via Landscaping (+29.3%) and Timber and Joinery Products (+16.3%). Sales of Heavy Building Materials (+8.7%) were also high compared with November’s level.


Complete sales in the three months Sep to Nov 2020 were 5.7% higher than the same three months in 2019. Landscaping (+25.6%) was especially solid, with Timber and Joinery Products (+10.6%) also doing well.

Compared with the past quarter of a year (June to August 2020), sales were up 3.3% with everything except one of the categories selling more.


Month-on-month data displays the strongest increases when compared with October were in the Renewables and Water Saving (+4.6%) and Kitchens and Bathrooms (+2.9%) categories. Sales in the Landscaping category (- 9.5%) fell as colder climate set in.


Year to date sales hit a low point in May (- 29.2%) but have consistently improved from that point. In the eleven months January to November, complete sales were down 11.9% compared and the exact a long time in 2019. Only Landscaping (+4.5%) sold more.


November’s BMBI index was 123.5, and Timber and Joinery Products been strongest at 139.9. The index for Heavy Building Materials remained at 119.4.

According to Kevin Morgan, Group Commercial Director, The Crystal Group, and BMBI’s Expert for PVC-U Windows & Doors, commented: “Demand for PVC-U windows and doors has been strong. So unexpectedly strong, it has triggered supply chain problems, particularly for PVC resin – the raw material for PVC-U profiles from which windows and doors are made.”

“For the first time ever, allocation of window profile. Although it happens very rarely in products such as bricks, PVC profiles have never been on allocation.”

“Most of UK profile extrusion firms are supplied by the same resin producer, which is a part of the Ineos group, so all of them are having trouble in getting enough resin to maintain their production.”

“Production is restricted by the profile supply and lead times are extending across the. Reasons include difficulties restarting resin production after maintenance shutdowns.”

“Like much of the industry, we have a healthy order book as people continue to stay home and improve their properties. Conservatories are seeing a strong demand spike as an effective way to increase living space without the planning permission needed for an extension. As more people work from home conservatories are an easy way to add extra living space to compensate.”

“Online capability is becoming crucial and I agree with Andy Scothern of eCommonSense in the Q2 BMBI report. Online is not just a website but it needs to run through the whole business. Recently Jewson invested and escalated its online services during lockdown to great effect, and now supplies a new range from Crystal.”

“Currently, many merchants’ customers who need windows for a project go elsewhere to get them. To help merchants access this market we now have seven Crystal Window Centres, which are manned units at merchants to help them promote and sell.”

“Crystal is optimistic that strong demand will continue in 2021, and we’re investing in our own manufacturing capacity with new machinery to enable us to fulfill it. Apart from profile supply problems, which we hope will be resolved, the prospects for windows and doors are looking good.”