After a strong first quarter, mostly driven by stockpiling ahead of the original 29th March Brexit date, construction product manufacturers report a weak performance in the second quarter.
The Construction Products Association’s state of trade survey for 2019 Q2 reveals that a net balance of 6% of heavy side manufacturers reported a fall in sales compared to Q1. Among light side manufacturers, a balance of only 9% reported that sales increased. Both numbers were down on Q1 and were the weakest in nearly two years.
Year-on-year sales increased for a net balance of 20% of heavy side and 9% of light side firms. These numbers, though positive, were also lower than in previous CPA trade surveys.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, both heavy side and light side manufacturers anticipate sales to increase, although for the heavy side, the balance of 27% was the lowest in two years. In addition, heavy side hiring was at a six-year low in Q2, suggesting the industry is in cautious mode.
CPA senior economist Rebecca Larkin said: “It is difficult to pinpoint whether the weakness in manufacturers’ sales in Q2 reflects merely an unwinding of the stockpiling by construction firms that occurred in Q1, a more concerning slowdown in the volumes of work on the ground, or a combination of both. Nevertheless, manufacturers have sounded a note of cautious optimism and anticipate that sales will continue to grow over the next 12 months. However, over two-thirds of firms highlighted demand as the key constraint on future activity and hiring looks to have taken a back seat. Demand in the commercial, industrial factories and housing RM&I sectors has already started the year on a loose footing, meaning there’s a lot resting on the housing and infrastructure sectors to keep construction activity afloat.”