Figures released from the Plumbing and Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) in October 2021 show that year-on-year value sales have dropped around 3.5 per cent from the figure for October 2020.
This accounts for sales through specialist merchants, such as Watkins and Powis. That said, the monthly figure was more healthy, with the lack of restrictions in October 2021 helping to drive a 1.0 per cent improvement on the same month in 2020.
Looking back at the pre-pandemic world and comparing October 2021 with October 2019, value sales were lower this year with a drop of 4.9 per cent. Like-for-like sales saw a 4.1 per cent improvement.
Healthy increases since September
If we compare the month-on-month sales in 2021, October saw a 6.0 per cent increase from September. This cannot all be attributed to September having one fewer trading day; in fact, when taking the number of trading days into account, the like-for-like sales increased by just over 11 per cent in October with more people buying heating and plumbing supplies, such as copper pipe connectors, to repair old or damaged equipment or as part of a new project.
Better than average performance
If we compare the heating and plumbing market with the total retail sales market, it seems that this sector has enjoyed a particularly strong autumn. According to the Office for National Statistics, retail sales volumes grew by 0.8 per cent in October against an unchanged position from August to September.
Whilst value sales from August to October 2021 were 1.6 per cent higher than in 2020, there was a 0.1 per cent decrease in this measure when compared with 2019.
Sales from August to October 2021 showed 4.3 per cent growth compared with the previous quarter, with like-for-like sales improving by 1.0 per cent.
Value sales show real improvement
Total value sales in the ten months to October 2021 have seen an increase of 21.4 per cent compared with 2020, demonstrating a huge recovery from the time when most of the UK was in lockdown. Encouragingly, this also shows a more modest growth of 2.1 per cent when compared with the same period in 2019. Like-for-like sales have grown by 23.1 per cent compared with 2020 and 3.6 per cent compared with 2019.
Overall, this demonstrates that the heating and plumbing sector is enjoying a healthy recovery following the pandemic.