Subdued levels of activity in January but certain sectors shone


The total value of contract awards in January 2021 was £4.3 billion, a decrease of 12% on December 2020 and also 10% lower than the monthly average in 2020 which was £4.8 billion.

The latest edition of the Economic & Construction Market Review from industry analysts Barbour ABI, highlights levels of construction contract values awarded across Great Britain.

Sector analysis shows that the total value of infrastructure projects reached £500 million in January, which is 57% lower than December 2020.

The total value of contract awards for industrial were also low compared to recent figures, in January the total value was £600 million which is a decline of 24% compared to December 2020. However, there was significant activity in the warehousing sub-sector. Two of the top four overall contract awards in January were warehouse projects – including the £125 million Next Warehouse in South Elmsall Yorkshire, and the £100 million Uniserve Distribution Centre in Suffolk.

Planning in January was also strong in the industrial sector with a total of £700 million new approvals. The hotel leisure and sport sector saw exceptional activity with £1.8 billion of approvals – major projects included the £1.3 billion Olympia Redevelopment in London, a £250 million Gateshead Quays Redevelopment in the North East, and the £350 million Manchester Arena project in the North West.

Commenting on the figures, Tom Hall, Chief Economist at Barbour ABI and AMA Research said, “The planning environment maintained activity in January, continuing its recent trajectory at lower than average levels. Those hoping for a bounce in activity as we leave the EU will be disappointed; clearly the Covid-19 pandemic remains the main factor suppressing activity. Meanwhile it is positive to see some life in the Hotel and Leisure sector with record planning approvals over the last quarter.”

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