Seventh quarterly fall for heavy building materials

The Construction Products Association’s latest state of trade survey for the first quarter of 2024 showed a seventh consecutive quarterly fall in sales for heavy side firms. However, sales of light side materials, as used in building refurbishment schemes, are on the rise again.

And expectations among manufacturers are higher than they have been for the past two years.

In the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, substantially more heavy side manufacturers reported that their sales had decreased than increased; the balance between the two was 36 percentage points, or a 36% balance as the CPA puts it.

Alongside this, light side manufacturers reported a rise in product sales, on balance, with a 24-point difference, swinging back into growth after two previous quarters of decline.

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Looking to the next 12 months, 79% of heavy side manufacturers and 59% of light side manufacturers anticipated an increase in sales, which were both the highest balances since the beginning of 2022.

CPA head of construction research Rebecca Larkin said: “The split in manufacturers’ sales performance mirrors the dynamics of demand within construction at the start of the year. Notable weakness in house building, and fewer large home improvements projects and major commercial schemes held back heavy side sales, with the wet weather providing a further drag on demand. In contrast, buoyant areas of activity such as offices refurbishment and energy efficiency work continued unhindered, underpinning the strength in light side sales.

“There is a clear anticipation that a reduction in interest rates in the coming months will kickstart the housing market and shore up confidence for large commercial and industrial projects to proceed. Continued wariness over the strength of demand echoes broader macroeconomic forecasts that it may be a gradual recovery over the remainder of this year, however.”

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