Construction Trade Survey February 2021

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The Q4 Construction Trade Survey signals a continued, but tentative, recovery for the construction industry following the disruptions to activity from Covid-19 between March and May. SME building contractors and chartered surveyors recorded an increase in workloads during Q4, whilst product manufacturers on both the heavy side and the light side reported quarterly increases in sales. Workloads for civil engineers were reported higher than a year earlier, but elsewhere in the supply chain, lower productivity from social distancing measures on-site, as well as lingering uncertainty and restrictions falling more strictly on some areas of the economy more than others meant that manufacturers’ sales were still reported to be lower in annual terms and workloads decreased in commercial sectors of construction such as retail and offices. This sectoral divergence was apparent in official ONS construction output data that showed output in private housing, infrastructure and RM&I had recovered near to pre-coronavirus levels in December due to pent-up demand and major projects, whereas industrial, commercial and public sector construction output was still around 15% lower than the start of the year.

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