I think we would all agree that the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic turned 2020 into an unforgettable year for all Sectors of Society, and unquestionably those in the Construction industry.
With monthly construction output dropping by a record 40.7% in April last year, as construction sites across the country were shut down, it was certainly not how we had envisaged the year proceeding. However, thanks to the support from our Client teams – who followed Government guidance in introducing strict onsite social distancing, staggered start times, and regular Covid tests for all workers – it was with relief, and renewed energy from our team, that we saw Project Sites start to reopen in April/May.
As confirmed by the ONS (Office for National Statistics), the phenomenal decline in April was followed by monthly growth of 8.2% in May, with further growth in June (21.8%) and July (17.2%). However, the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic to the Construction sector can be clearly recognised when this level of monthly growth is compared to February 2020 – only 3 months earlier, before the industry was hit in full force, the level of output was up by almost 40%. Whilst this trend of monthly growth continued through the Autumn of 2020, it was at a remarkably slower rate, falling once again in December by 2.9%, largely due to a lack of new construction work opening up and the imposition of new lockdowns.
So how does it look for the Construction industry going forwards? Whilst growth of 0.9% was recorded in January, at Ashfield we anticipate a slow but sustained level of growth to be maintained in 2021, taking us into 2022 before we start to see pre-Covid levels of growth across the industry.
Reflecting on 2020, it’s fair to say that many lessons were learnt, and despite the challenges Covid brought to everyone, everywhere – both in business and our personal lives – we are pleased to report that Ashfield Stone has emerged a stronger team, with a firm order book for this year and going into 2022.