State of Trade Survey 2018 Q2

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Following a weak first quarter, which experienced the compound effects of weather-related disruptions and the demise of Carillion, construction product manufacturers reported a mixed performance in Q2. After two consecutive quarters of decline, 40% of heavy side manufacturers reported a rise in sales in Q2. The rebound in sales is likely to reflect some degree of catch-up, aided further by unseasonably warm weather. This echoes official data, which showed that after a decline in Q1, construction output recorded the strongest monthly growth rate in two years for May. On the light side, however, 29% of firms reported a decrease in sales during the quarter, the first fall since 2013 Q1. Expectations for Q3 remained mixed, but manufacturers’ optimism improved on the 12-month outlook. 43% of heavy side manufacturers and 27% of those on the light side anticipated a rise in sales over the next 12 months. Despite this, employment data depicted a weak picture in Q2, with heavy side firms reporting the joint lowest balance in nearly five years.

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