P&H sales increase but volumes are down

The latest figures from the Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report show total value sales for January through specialist plumbing and heating merchants were up +1.5% in 2024 compared to the same month in 2023. But volumes decreased -3.7% as prices increased +5.4%. 

Taking trading day differences into account, like-for-like sales for January – which had one more day in 2024 compared to 2023 were -3.1% lower.

Month-on-month, January value sales were up +30.7% on weak December sales. However, with six extra trading days in January, like-for-like sales were down -4.9%. Volume sales increased +41.5% and prices fell -7.6%. 

Total value sales in the three months November 2023 to January 2024 were flat (-0.2%) compared to the same period a year ago. Volume sales were down -5.5% with prices rising +5.6%. With an extra trading day in the most recent three-month period, like-for-like sales were -1.9% lower.

Value sales were also flat (+0.2%) when comparing November 2023 to January 2024 to the previous three-month period (August to October 2023). With five less trading days in the most recent period, like-for-like sales were +8.5% higher. Volumes fell -7.2% as prices increased +7.9%. 

Plumbing & Heating merchants’ value sales in the rolling 12-month period from February 2023 to January 2024 were +3.4% ahead of the previous 12-month period. With two additional trading days this year, like-for-like value sales increased +2.6%. This was largely driven by price (+6.6%) as volume sales were down -3.0%.

January’s PHMI index was 110.2. With an additional trading day compared to the base figure, the like-for-like index was 103.5. 

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research, which produces the report says: “There were few reasons for the Plumbing & Heating industry to be cheerful in 2023 but despite a fall in volumes and continuing price rises in January, there’s much more to be cheerful about. 

“The latest ONS figures show that on a sector level, private housing repair and maintenance improved +3.2% over the three-months to January, and in the month of January private new housing volumes were up +2.6%. Inflation is expected to return to more normal levels and interest rates are forecast to fall. House prices are starting to rise again as demand grows and there’s the prospect of better times ahead with an Autumn election.

“GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index dropped two points to -21 in February – but people’s view of their own improving financial situation over the coming 12 months was unaffected - and February’s wobble comes after dramatic improvements in consumer confidence in the previous twelve months.”

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 70% 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.