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Heavy material sales slow as starts decline

6 Feb 23 The Construction Products Association’s latest state of trade survey indicates growth for sales of light building products but a decline for heavy materials like bricks and concrete.

With new-build construction slowing down and industry efforts more focused on improving existing buildings to reduce energy bills, light side manufacturers are expected to continue benefiting more than heavy side manufacturers, their trade association said.

The Construction Products Association (CPA) state of trade survey for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2022 saw a 20% net balance of heavy side manufacturers reporting sales in decline, marking a second consecutive quarter of decline. In contrast, a net balance of 27% of light side manufacturers reported that product sales rose, which extended a run of growth to 10 straight quarters.

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On balance, one-third of heavy side firms, whose products tend to feed into the earlier stages of construction, anticipated a decrease in sales over the next 12 months. On the light side, a balance of 8% of firms anticipated a rise in sales during 2023.

CPA head of research Rebecca Larkin said: “It was a mixed bag for construction product manufacturers at the end of last year, with demand in some areas of construction knocked by renewed economic uncertainty following the Truss government’s mini budget, as well as early signs that historically high inflation was stalling household spending and business investment decisions. This primarily affected heavy side manufacturers, who experienced a fall in sales for products that are typically used at the earlier stages of construction as demand and confidence weakened for new build project starts. Sales growth continued for light side manufacturers in Q4, however, and is likely to have been buoyed by areas of construction that are still experiencing strong activity, namely offices refurbishments and energy-efficient retrofit such as insulation measures.”

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