Construction Trade Survey November 2020

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The Q3 Construction Trade Survey follows one of the worst quarters in history for sales of construction products and materials, and contractor and surveyor workloads. The seven-week coronavirus lockdown in Q2 saw the industry bear the brunt of pauses in activity in March, April and May. An easing of restrictions from mid-May and a change in seasons in terms of the weather kicked off the subsequent returns to site and rebound in activity throughout Q3. SME building contractors and product manufacturers on both the heavy side and the light side reported respective increases in workloads and product sales in Q3 in quarterly terms. However, reflecting lower productivity from social distancing measures on-site, as well as lingering uncertainty and restrictions in some sectors such as retail, manufacturers’ sales were still reported to be lower in annual terms and civil engineering contractors and chartered surveyors also reported decreased workloads in Q3 compared to a year earlier. This picture was also confirmed in official ONS construction data. Construction output increased 17.2% in July and 3.0% in August, but even after monthly increases since May, output in August remained 10.8% below February’s pre-coronavirus levels.

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