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The latest figures from the Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report, published in September, show that value sales through specialist plumbing and heating merchants were 12.8% higher in July than July 2020, as the industry’s post-COVID recovery stays on track. With two less trading days this July, like-for-like sales a day were 23.6% higher.

Month-on-month total merchants July sales were marginally up on June (+0.5%) with one less trading day in July 2021. Average daily sales were up 5.2% on June.

Measured against the same period in 2019, monthly sales for July 2021 were down -0.5% but, with two less trading days this year, average sales a day were 9% higher.

Sales in the three months May to July 2021 were 42.6% higher than the same period last year, when merchants were heavily restricted by the pandemic. With two less trading days, like-for-like sales a day were 47.2 higher.

Compared with the same three months two years ago, May to July 2021 value sales were ahead by 2.3%. With two less trading days this year, average sales a day increased by 5.6%.

Year-to-date sales (January to July 2021) were up 32.5% on the same period last year, with three less trading days, and 3.1% up on the same seven months in 2019, with two less trading days in 2021.

Over the last 12 months (August 2020 to July 2021), specialist plumbing and heating merchant value sales were 16.4% ahead of the same period a year before, with two less trading days in the most recent period. On a like-for-like basis, average sales a day increased by 17.3%.

July’s PHMI Index, which is based on January to December 2019, was 99.6.

Dave Evans, Managing Director P&H Businesses of Travis Perkins, which contributes to the PHMI comments: “During 2021 the market has clearly recovered from the impact of the Covid pandemic. The P&H sector is in a strong position to continue this recovery, due to our exposure to the more resilient repair and maintenance market. We can see this across the market, for example, our businesses grew in the first half of 2021 by 6.6% versus 2019.

“Moving forward, in the short term, we see the recent market recovery continuing although we remain watchful over the impacts of macro issues such as raw materials availability and subsequent cost inflation along with the knock-on impacts from key labour shortages such as HGV drivers. It’s really important we work across the fullness of our sector and in partnership with our suppliers to navigate through these challenges.

“Looking further ahead, enhancing the digital capabilities of businesses through the P&H sector will continue to be strategically important, as the needs of customers and the way they engage with organisations continue to change.”

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.