UK merchant sales plunge in April but market is recovering

According to April data from the Builders Merchant Federation’s Builders Merchant Building Index, it is evident that the coronavirus lockdown has greatly affected sales for merchants in the UK. With many trades not working due to temporary closures or restricted services since mid-March, figures for April show the alarming impact.


Total Builders Merchants value sales in April were down 76.3% compared to April 2019.


Compared to March 2020, total sales in April dropped 72.1%, with two less trading days. Average sales per day were 69.3% lower than in March.

(Source: GfK’s Builders Merchants Total Category Report July 2015 to April 2020)

“Sadly, April’s figures come as no surprise with the majority of construction sites and builders merchants closing, or significantly reducing operations, as a first response to the government’s lock down measures to prevent to transmission of Covid-19,” said BMF CEO John Newcomb.

“However, the BMF tracked the operational status of our members throughout the crisis and the majority quickly adapted their business to offer phone or online sales and, following publication of our new branch operating guidelines, many were able to open branches and trade safely.  Throughout May we could see the numbers open for business increasing on a daily basis and today all are operational.”

“With construction, housing and home improvement works all back on site, we expect the picture to improve as data for the rest of Q2 becomes available.”

“It will be vital for the construction industry to work together to implement the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) recovery plan in the months ahead and the BMF is involved in developing outputs to accelerate the housing and RMI sectors, both key customer groups for builders merchants.”