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The latest figures for February from the Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report show monthly total value sales through specialist plumbing and heating merchants were 3.2% higher than the same month in 2021.

However, this growth has come entirely from +8.3% higher prices rather than volume sales which slipped -4.7%.

Compared to February 2019, a more normal pre-Covid year, total value sales for February 2022 were 4.9% higher with no difference in trading days.

Month-on-month sales data reveals that February sales were 1.3% higher than January. The number of trading days was the same.

Value sales in the three months December 2021 to February 2022 were up 2.9% compared with the same three months last year, again with no difference in trading days.

Plumbing & Heating merchants’ sales in the last 12 months (March 2021 to February 2022) were 19.6% ahead of the previous 12-month period (March 2020 to February 2021) with no difference in trading days.

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research, which produces the report comments: “At first glance, February looks to have achieved a positive month of growth for the merchants but analysis shows that growth has come from +8.3% higher prices while volume is down -4.7%. With inflation at a 30-year high and rising, it’s a trend we may well see more of this year.

“But there are plenty of opportunities for volume growth in 2022 as spiralling fuel and energy costs encourage people to switch to more efficient heating and hot water systems. Climate change is still our biggest challenge and energy efficiency, water saving and sustainability will become ever more important.”

The Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) is the first to analyse point of sales data collated from specialist plumbing & heating merchants with combined annual sales of £3bn, to chart their performance month-to-month.

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

To download the latest report, or learn more about becoming an Expert, speaking on behalf of your market, visit www.phmi.co.uk.