Merchant value sales growth continued in May but volumes continued to fall 

Merchant value sales growth continued in May but volumes continued to fall 

The latest figures from the Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report show total value sales for May 2023 through specialist plumbing and heating merchants were +1.7% up on May last year. This growth came from price inflation of +7.1% as volumes fell -5.0%.   

With one less trading day in May 2023, like-for-like value sales were +6.8% higher than May 2022.  

Month-on-month, value sales in May were +6.2% ahead of April sales. Volume sales also increased +7.8% while prices fell -1.5%. With two extra trading days in May, like-for-like sales were -4.4% down. 

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research, which produces the report said: “The effects of rising interest rates, inflation and economic uncertainty on demand continue to dent 2023 merchant sales for Plumbing and Heating specialists. 

“But there is cause for optimism. Inflation is easing and, while the cost-of-living crisis continues, there is growing resilience in the market. Consumer confidence has been recovering according to GFK’s Consumer Confidence Index, with an uptick of three points recorded in both May and June. That’s still a negative -24 but 12 months ago it was -41.  

“Parts of the market are thriving despite the tough conditions. Homeowners without mortgages and with savings are spending on repairs, maintenance and improvements, and builders and trades who serve them are booked well into the future.  

“There are significant opportunities to increase volume sales in water and energy efficiency and the push for properties to meet more stringent Building Regulations and the Future Homes Standard in 2025.  

“Following a record-breaking week for global temperatures, it’s increasingly difficult to deny the effects of climate change and there has to be an urgency to do our bit to resolve it. As an industry, we must strive to build and retrofit homes to use less energy, water and resources. This starts with well-informed merchants who ensure that products that make a difference are front and centre for customers and that environmental impact becomes as important as price, brand and quality in the purchasing decision making process.”  

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