That is the primary conclusion of the latest state of trade survey from the National Specialist Contractors’ Council (NSCC).
The results for the third quarter of 2012 show a significant fall in the number of orders as the predicted knock-on effect from the low number of enquiries received in the previous quarter was realised.
Close to half of respondents (44%) reported a decrease in orders this quarter, up from 32% last quarter.
29% of specialist contractors are anticipating a decrease in workload in the next quarter with just 11% considering any business expansion over the same period, down from 27% last quarter.
While this is not unexpected at this time of year as the industry prepares to shut down for the Christmas period, it does support the disappointing figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) which showed that construction output contracted by 2.5% in the third quarter of 2012 even though the economy as a whole grew by 1%.
The medium term outlook into 2013 appears to be more positive with 35% of specialist contractors expecting an increase in workload and 27% looking to expand their businesses over the next 12 months.
NSCC chief executive Suzannah Nichol said: “This time of year is often a struggle for the industry as work tails off in the run up to Christmas but the next few months look set to be particularly tough.”