UK recession – outlook for the construction industry (expert comment)


Charlie Carlton, Head of Digital at IronmongeryDirect, the UK’s largest supplier of ironmongery, has commented on the UK economy entering a recession and the outlook for the construction industry:

“The UK has now officially, and inevitably, entered a recession, with the economy shrinking by 20.4% between April and June, compared to the first three months of 2020.

“The construction industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the lockdown causing output to plummet since March. In April, it fell by a staggering 40.2% – the highest monthly fall since such records began in 2010.

“However, while construction output remains around a quarter (24.8%) lower than it was pre-lockdown, there are certainly signs of recovery. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that output increased by 23.5% between May and June, which was also a record.

“The sectors which grew the most were repairs and maintenance of private housing (44%) and the building of private new houses (42.3%). 

“In other more positive news, the number of unemployed construction workers dropped by 3,000 in the months between April to June (compared with March to May), and this was joined by a rise in average weekly earnings, from £578 up to £590. While this is 9% lower than the equivalent period last year, it is the first increase in 2020, so hopefully it will continue to rise.

“The slow, but visible signs of recovery are also evident in our sales figures, as IronmongeryDirect saw record numbers for both orders and revenue in June. We experienced an 80% year-on-year increase in web traffic and a 75% rise in transactions.

“While there is undoubtedly still a long way to go before the construction industry fully recovers, it’s great to see that there are a few signs of progress after an incredibly challenging few months. While we are about to hit a hard time as a nation, there can be hope that we’ll recover in full force.”

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BDC 303 Apr 2023