Coronavirus lockdown demand for DIY and gardening goods boosts B&M sales

A surge in demand for DIY and gardening products during lockdown saw the tills ringing at discounter B&M Bargains.

The company said in the eight weeks to 23 May, like-for-like sales in stores, which have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic as an “essential” retailer, were up 22.7% compared with a year earlier.

However, the firm points out that costs have also risen due to implementing COVID-19 social distancing measures and protections for customers and staff.

Chief executive Simon Arora said: “We have encountered exceptionally strong demand in our UK business over recent weeks.

“Customers have been coming to our stores much less frequently through the lockdown but their average spend has been much higher than normal.”

The growth in gardening and DIY products was particularly strong, as government guidelines kept garden centres shut and rival home improvement chain B&Q closed to allow for new social distancing measures to be introduced.

Mr Arora added: “We have seen a significant bring-forward of demand in some key categories and the remarkably warm spring weather in the UK has been a major factor behind this during recent weeks.

“We are not expecting this current level of trading to continue as normal shopping patterns resume.

“Clearly, there is also considerable uncertainty in relation to both the progression of COVID-19 and the economic outlook and it is therefore hard to predict future trading levels.”

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The retailer has also benefited from a 100% business rates holiday this year on all commercial premises in England, although it did not reveal how much it was saving from the measure aimed at helping retailers whose doors were forced to close.

B&M has also donated £1m to UK food banks and provided a £2m discount to NHS workers.

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.

If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email afterthepandemic@sky.uk

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