The construction industry sees a recovery
Like almost every other industry in the UK, construction suffered significantly when the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier in the year. Despite the fact that steps were taken to try to keep construction businesses open for as long as possible while others were being forced into lockdown there was still a serious downturn that has hit many in the industry hard. However, as the year has gone on this situation has reversed somewhat and we have begun to see much healthier levels of growth across the industry that at times have even set records. With the end of the year approaching there is a great deal of hope that the construction industry recovery is now under way.
The aftermath of COVID-19
While the pandemic is far from over the initial, crippling stages of national lockdown have passed – for now at least. Many areas of the country remain under some restrictions but these are not as severe as those that the UK was subject to earlier in the year. The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there has been a significant recovery in the construction sector in the summer and the later half of the year. In June the industry saw record monthly growth of 23.5% – this contrasts heavily to the three months running up to July 2020 when total construction output fell by more than 10% in comparison to the previous three months. The entire industry was affected by this drop in output, both with respect to new sales and also repairs and maintenance. While the government was encouraging the industry to keep building during this time many investors paused, which meant that the industry as a whole experienced a pause too.
A general upward trend
There has been an increase in output right across the construction sector with infrastructure the first area where this overtook the level of activity in February 2020 before the pandemic hit. July saw a huge increase in activity in maintenance and repair – this part of the sector experienced growth in output of 17.6%. Private housing maintenance and repair output increased by 24.6% and non-housing maintenance and repair by just over 11%.
Caution is still necessary
Although the construction sector has experienced this positive movement it’s clear that the industry is still recovering and many urge caution. The total drop in output during lockdown amounted to 40% and this is a record breaking figure that will take the sector some time to recover from. Another full national lockdown could be catastrophic for the industry and so the possibility of a second spike is being closely monitored. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the UK could leave Europe with a no-deal Brexit in the near future and this is adding another level of uncertainty and making it difficult for anyone to predict what the outlook for the construction industry really looks like.
The past couple of months have indicated a recovery for the construction sector that is welcome news after the problems of this year but there is still plenty to be cautious about.