The Builders Merchants Federation’s (BMF) latest sales figures, generated by the Builders Merchants Panel, show absolute growth of 2.3% over the fourth quarter of 2014.
The panel has now generated nine months of data, and this is the first quarter where each month has shown month-on-month growth over the previous month (January 17.7%, February 5.2% and March 18.9%).
There were more trading days in the first quarter of 2015 (63) compared with Q4 2014 (60). Taking this into account and comparing sales out on a per-day trading basis reveals a slight downturn – £19.6m a day in Q4 2014 versus £19.1m a day in Q1 2015.
January was the biggest contributor to this decline with total sales out per trading day of £17.3m, the lowest in the nine months tracked to date.
Overall, the Q1 figures provide a positive picture for the industry. March 2015 was the second most valuable month per trading day (£20.7m) since data collection began last July.
Only September 2014 generated more sales per day (£20.9m), with both months having 22 trading days.
The first full-year insights, covering July 2014 to June 2015, will be available in August, with the first monthly year-on-year comparisons due a month later.
Managing director John Newcomb said: “The Builders Merchants Panel is in its early days and we don’t yet have a full 12 months of data to provide accurate comparisons of trading activity throughout the year.
“But the information generated to date is extremely useful. We can already see positive signals for the market. Builders merchants have seen three months of sales growth since the turn of the year, with March sales values (£456m) close to September (£459m) and October (£460m) last year.”
As a proportion of total sales, plumbing, heating and electrical goods remained stable at 5.6% in both quarters, as did sales of kitchens and bathrooms (4.7%) and decorating products (4.7%).