Builders’ Merchants News – Plumbing & Heating merchant sales triple in April

The signs of recovery continue with sales up 26.1% in January to April 2021 compared to the same four months last year, with one trading day less.

The latest Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index report published in June shows that value sales through specialty plumbing and heating merchants rose 192.4% in April from April 2020, with merchants selling nearly three times as much as the previous year.

The signs of recovery continue with sales up 26.1% in January to April 2021 compared to the same four months last year, with one trading day less.

However, with many trading branches closed last April due to the pandemic, comparisons between 2021 and 2020 are less meaningful. Comparing sales to 2019 and normal trading conditions is more helpful. On this basis, value sales through specialist plumbing and heating traders increased by 4.3% in April 2021 compared to April 2019, excluding trading days, confirming the strength of the recovery in this sector.

Despite a difficult start to the year with a third national lockdown, February to April sales were 6.6% higher than the same period in 2019, with two trading days remaining.

Month-on-month, value sales were down 13.8% from March 2021, not helped by three fewer trading days in April. The average turnover per day was only 0.9% lower.

Total turnover in the 12 months May 2020 to April 2021 was almost identical to the same period a year earlier (+0.1%), with no difference in trading days.

The April PHMI index was 101.8. The average Index over the last three months (February to April) is 107.5, an improvement on the previous three months (98.1).

Don Nisbet, Head of Insight, Wolseley, one of the leading plumbing and heating suppliers to PHMI, said: “In April, year-over-year comparisons were skewed by last year’s semi-close, so the two-year comparisons are a more useful guide to the market situation than the spectacular one-year figures When compared over two years, with a more normal 2019, the index is up 4.3% on a monthly basis and 6.6% on a quarterly basis, indicating underlying market growth.

“The coldest April since 1922 will certainly have contributed to the demand for the boiler and heating market.

Likewise, the work-from-home phenomenon and the mini-housing boom that has resulted, and the stamp-duty holidays are certainly helping domestic plumbing and heating markets. However, commercial P&H customers will see the flip side of the office market pandemic. The P&H market is undoubtedly moving in the right direction in terms of demand, helped by the short-term housing market boost, but looking ahead there is still a lot of uncertainty for the rest of the year with customer concerns about future availability and pricing.”

The Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index is the first to analyze point-of-sale data collected by a range of specialist plumbing and heating merchants with combined annual sales of £3bn, to chart their month-to-month performance.

Based on data from GfK’s Plumbing & Heating Merchant Panel, which represents more than 80% of the market by value, the report provides reliable data and a platform and voice for the industry, as well as leading plumbing and heating brands. It is produced by MRA Research for the Builders Merchants Federation. There is no overlap or double counting between PHMI’s sales data and the Builders Merchants Building Index.

To download the latest report, or to learn more about how to become an expert speaking on behalf of your market, visit

Comments are closed.