The Industry Performance Barometer

The Industry Performance Barometer

The building materials sector as a whole had never been able to accurately measure output performance, this was until 2014. The Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) tracks what is happening within the sector on a month by month basis with reviews every quarter. Product categories include timber, bricks, decorating materials, plumbing supplies, tools and gardening equipment. This enables accurate data across-the-board something that is not available to other construction sectors.

Furthermore, it includes industry commentary with views and opinions from industry figures to help explain any issues, opportunities and trends in their markets.

BMBI Overview

The latest data shared from November 2020 saw the largest year-on-year increase since March 2019 even with the Lockdown restriction being in place., total sales were 9.0% higher than in November 2019. 


Total Builders Merchants November 2020 value sales surged 9.0% ahead of November 2019 with the sector following the directive from new BEIS Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng to keep construction sites open during Lockdown. Four categories sold more, led by strong performances from Landscaping (+29.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+16.3%). Heavy Building Materials was 8.7% higher and Ironmongery (+2.4%) grew more slowly. The other eight categories sold less, with Workwear & Safetywear (-6.0%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-5.8%) weakest.


Total Merchants November sales were 2.3% lower than in October, with one less trading day this month. Renewables & Water Saving (+4.6%) did best, with Kitchens & Bathrooms (+2.9%) and Workwear & Safetywear(+1.2%) the only other categories that sold more. Landscaping (-9.5%) did least well. Ironmongery (-3.5%) and Heavy Building Materials (-2.7%) were also weaker. Average sales a day, which take trading day differences into account, were up 2.3% on October.

Other Periods

Total sales in the last three months (September to November) were 5.7% higher than the same three months in 2019. Landscaping (+25.6%) was particularly strong, with Timber & Joinery Products (+10.6%) also doing well. Among the eight categories selling less, Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-7.7%) was weakest. Sales were up 3.3% in the last three months compared with the previous three months (June to August) and all but one of the categories sold more. Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+29.9%) had the largest increase, with this category having been hit hard during the spring and summer months. Similarly, Kitchens & Bathrooms sold 17.9% more. Only seasonal category Landscaping (-28.8%) sold less. Year to date sales hit a low point in May (-29.2%) but have steadily improved since then. In the eleven months January to November, total sales were down 11.9% compared with the same months in 2019. Only Landscaping (+4.5%) sold more. Tools (-21.8%) was weakest, closely followed by Plumbing Heating & Electrical (-20.5%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (-19.5%).

Source: BMBI November 2020 –