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Q1 survey shows ‘no respite’ for construction

Construction output and employment are set to fall even further in 2009 and 2010, according to the latest State of Trade Survey from the Construction Products Association.
The survey covers the first four months of 2009 and finds that the decline endured in 2008 is set to be exacerbated in 2009 with decreasing demand in the economy leading to unprecedented falls in output and employment within the construction industry.

The Association anticipates that the construction sector as a whole will fall 12.1% during 2009, the sharpest decline on record and the private sector is expected to endure the worst falls, falling 20% in 2009 alone. While 2008 saw private housing and industrial sectors suffering, 2009 is expected to see sharp falls in offices and retail new build, with private housing repair and maintenance also set to be hit hard.

Key survey findings are that:

· 62% of building contractors report that output fell in Q1 compared to Q4 2008 and 60% report that output will fall further in the next quarter.

· 100% of heavy side manufacturers reported that sales were lower than in the previous quarter.

· 56% of specialist contractors reported that order books fell in the first quarter of 2009, indicating that output was likely to fall further near term.

The survey highlights the stark contrast between 18 months ago, when the chief concerns regarded whether there was adequate capacity to meet demand and rapidly rising input prices. The survey also illustrates the deterioration in construction product manufacturing during the first quarter of 2009. All heavy side manufacturers and 91% of light side manufacturers reported that sales had fallen, unprecedented results since the survey began. Just 12 months previous to this, 82% of light side manufacturers stated that sales had risen.

CPA economics director Noble Francis at the Construction Products Association said: “The worst fears of those in the construction industry look set to be realised. With deep recession in the economy weighing heavily upon construction, the latest quarter of output within the industry, covering 2008 Q4, already highlighted the steepest decline since 1980. However, the latest Construction Trade Survey suggests that the situation has deteriorated further.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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