South East outperforms rest of UK in sales of building materials

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Construction workers collaborating on new house building

The South East (excluding London), has outperformed the rest of the UK in sales of building materials, despite a 3.9% dip, according to latest analysis from the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF).

The building materials sector is considered a key bellwether of the national economy and the ‘mood of the nation’ in terms of home repair, maintenance and improvement.

Year-on-year figures for Q4 of 2023, reported in the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) – show total sales across the UK were 5.7% lower compared to the last three months of 2022.

Total merchants’ sales for the whole of 2023 were 5.1% lower than in 2022.

Louise Polston, Commercial Director of Alsford, is BMF Regional Chair for the South East. She said: “Q4 is typically quieter than other quarters across the industry so the overall negative result was expected, but the South East still outperformed the other regions which is encouraging and hopefully a sign of things to come in 2024.

“The industry needs a focus from Government on housebuilding if we are going to make further traction over the coming 12 months.”

The BMBI is produced quarterly by the BMF and is considered a gold standard measure of sales activity in the building materials sector.

BMF CEO John Newcomb said: “Our BMBI report is based on actual sales from merchants to builders and other trades.

“It provides a wealth of data on how Britain’s builders merchants perform in different parts of the country, reflecting the ‘health’ of construction in each region.”

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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