GDP data: UK construction ‘head and shoulders above other sectors’ in Covid recovery
The construction sector is playing a key role as the fastest growing sector of the UK’s Covid-hit economy, according to analysts.
The UK economy edged up 0.4 per cent in February as it rebounded from a January slump, helped by a 1.6 per cent rise in construction.
The sector’s improvement was driven by growth in both new work and repair and maintenance.
Gareth Belsham, director of national surveyors firm Naismiths, said that nothing could take the shine off “another strong month of growth for Britain’s builders”.
“A 1.6 per cent monthly jump in output would be impressive at any time,” Belsham said.
“But coming in the middle of a nationwide lockdown, it shows just how well the industry has managed to adapt to social distancing rules and speaks of the deep reserves of pent-up demand.”
Digging into the data
Output among private sector housebuilders has surged by nearly 141 per cent since its low point 12 months ago.
Meanwhile, infrastructure work has long since soared past its pre-pandemic level.
With many housebuilders reporting full orderbooks, Belsham believes the question now is whether Monday’s scenes of high street shoppers returning will help retail construction pick itself up to join the party.
“The government’s statisticians have confirmed that 2020 was the worst year on record for UK construction.
“Grim though that milestone is, it’s starting to feel increasingly distant as contractors and their suppliers gear up for a sustained surge of demand in 2021.”
Read more: UK PMIs: Construction activity grows at fastest rate since 2014
Cause for optimism
Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director at Fidelity International, said that February’s overall GDP figures show a “rosier picture” after a sobering start to the year.
“There is much reason for optimism. Consumers have enthusiastically returned to the high street, glasses have been raised to the opening of outdoor dining and drinking as restrictions ease and the vaccination programme continues at pace.
“This all points towards a positive direction of travel for the UK economy.”
Read more: London markets open flat despite GDP boost