Scotland performs well despite dip in building materials sales

Alan Trail, BMF regional chairman for Scotland

ANALYSIS of building materials sales across the UK for Q1 2023 show Scotland was one of the top performing regions, despite a slight dip in sales of -0.5%.

According to the Builders Merchants Federation’s (BMF) quarterly analysis of the sector – Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) – total sales were down -2.3%.

However, figures from the quarterly report show the actual volume of sales was down by -16.4%, with the value of sales higher due to prices rising by +16.9%.

The BMBI also noted nine of the 12 sales categories – including Heavy Building Materials (+3.3%) and Decorating (+13.9%) – saw sales value increases driven for the most part by inflation.

Price drops in Timber and Joinery (-15.3%) were a key factor in the overall dip in sales, while Landscaping (-18.3%), was affected by one of the wettest Marches in England since 1981.

Alan Trail, BMF regional chairman for Scotland, said: “Scotland continues to stay strong against other regions of the UK at this challenging time.

“Despite a large drop in volume of sales the fact price rises were still here meant that 1st quarter sales were not as badly affected.

“Hopefully prices have started to stabilise now and with the better weather here we will see sales increase in landscaping and heavy building categories.”

The BMF’s BMBI is seen as a gold standard measure of sales activity in the building materials sector, which is considered a key bellwether of the national economy and the ‘mood of the nation’ in terms of home repair, maintenance and improvement.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “BMBI data highlights the impact of weather during the first quarter.

“In particular, one of the wettest Marches for 40 years slowed external works, with landscaping projects taking a major hit, whereas sales for internal works, notably kitchens and bathrooms, increased in volume. 

“This is a challenging market, but ONS output figures for Q1 were better than many predicted, largely due to an increase in repair and maintenance work, which is a mainstay for many merchant customers.

“With prices beginning to stabilise, there is some room for optimism as we move into the summer months.”

Using GfK’s point of sale tracking data, the BMF’s BMBI is drawn from over 80 per cent of builders’ merchants sales throughout the country, making it the most reliable source of data for the sector.

The latest stories