Landscaping projects continue to drive merchant sales

Average sales per day, which takes into account the differences between trading days, increased 4.7% from October 2019.

As in September, landscaping was the product category that saw the greatest year-over-year growth in October 2020, up 16.5% over 2019. Landscaping was up 24.2% in September. Wood and joinery product sales rose 5.0% in October to the highest monthly turnover since national data was first collected in July 2014.

The largest category, heavy building materials, was down 0.6% from 2019. There was a larger decrease in the indoor categories: sanitary heating and electrics decreased by 10.5%; Decoration by 8.1% and kitchens and bathrooms by 6.5%.

Compared to the previous month, the total turnover of the dealers in October 2020 was 1.8% lower than in September 2020. There was growth in work and safety clothing (+ 12.7%) as well as sanitary heating and electrics (+ 9.2%). Landscaping sales were down 15.8% month-over-month and heavy building materials were down 2.1%.

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In the three months of August to October 2020, sales increased by a total of 1.5% compared to the same three months in 2019, with one trading day less this year. Landscaping (plus 21.3%) performed significantly better than other categories in the reporting period. Wood and carpentry products (+ 4.7%) and heavy building materials (+ 0.3%) also sold stronger. However, the other nine product categories sold less. Sales of plumbing heaters and electrical appliances declined 10.1% in the three-month period compared to the previous year, sales of tools decreased by 4.9% and those of kitchens and bathrooms decreased by 4.6%.

Despite largely positive sales, the construction companies trading sector has not yet fully recovered from the 76.3% year-over-year sales decline in April 2020 during the first national lockdown given the poor state of UK retail this year.

In the nine months from January to October 2020, total sales since the beginning of the year decreased by 13.8% compared to the same month last year. Landscaping (+ 2.8%) sold more and work and safety clothing (+ 0.1%) remained unchanged. The remaining ten categories all sold less, with tools (-23.9%) for heating and electrical installations (-22.1%) and kitchens and bathrooms (-21.3%) being the weakest.

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