South East a high performer despite dip in sales


The South East was a top performer for building materials sales in Q3 2023, despite recording a drop in sales year-on-year.

Latest figures from the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) quarterly Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI), show sales in the South East (excluding London) fell by 3.4% from July to September compared to the same period last year.

The figures reflect a nationwide trend that saw total merchants value sales drop by 3.3% compared to 2022.

The BMF’s South East regional chair, Louise Polston, said: “The region’s year-on-year performance is reflective of the industry as a whole.

“From the outset in 2023 we expected to see an uplift in the second half of the year which unfortunately has just not come into fruition.

“Despite the negative result, it is encouraging that the South East continues to lead the way, which is hopefully a sign of things to come for our region.”

The BMF represents 900 merchant and supplier companies with over £44.5bn in combined sales of building materials, which is considered a key bellwether of the national economy and reflection of the ‘mood of the nation’ regarding home repair, maintenance and improvement.

The BMBI is seen as a gold standard measure of sales activity in the sector.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “The BMBI reflects the ‘regional health’ of the building materials supply industry, showing how builders’ merchants are performing in different areas of the country and tracking longer term trends across the sector.

“Overall, total sales from July to September were 1.4% lower than in April to June this year, dropping to 3.3% when compared to Q3 last year.

“Ten of the eleven BMF regions sold less – but the South East still managed to secure a place in the top three regions for sales.”

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.

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