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Builders' merchant sales show short-term improvement but annual decline
Published:  28 November, 2012

The latest monthly sales indicators released by the Builders' Merchants Federation reveal that national sales of building materials rose slightly in quarter 3 of 2012.

When adjusted for inflation and trading day differences, sales rose by 1.9% in Q3 (July to September, 2013) compared by the same period last year, and by 8.9% compared with the preceding quarter (April to June, 2012).

However, the BMF's 12-month comparator shows a fall of 1.6% in builders' merchants sales for the 12 month to September 2012 compared with the previous 12-month period, with marginal improvements found in only four regions.

Unusually, quarter 3 sales in Greater London were the weakest in the country, with builders' merchants there reporting a quarterly year-on-year reduction of -5.1%. Wales, in contrast, had the strongest results, reporting a quarterly year-on-year increase of 13.8%.

Commenting on the figures, BMF secretary Peter Matthews said: "It is clear that construction is lagging behind other industries in coming out of recession, largely due to the financial constraints limiting building activity and the housing market. Construction has a high proportion of small businesses who are suffering the consequences of the credit squeeze on two fronts. Mortgage lending is running at about 30% of average levels which impacts on housebuilding and the home improvement market, added to which lenders are treating smaller building companies as social pariahs and refusing them lines of credit. If the situation is to improve in the foreseeable future, we need more than just the Bank of England’s lacklustre Funding For Lending Scheme to start lending again."