Sales of construction products continued to grow in Q4 2020 despite growing concerns over material and component import issues, according to the latest Construction Product Association’s (CPA) State of Trade Survey.

The increase reflects a catch-up in construction activity and pent-up demand in sectors such as housing as the industry continues its recovery from the Covid-related contraction in the first half of the year, says the report. However, it adds that constraints related to material and component supply, as well as capacity and import concerns, all registered more strongly than in recent surveys.

On this matter, around a sixth of ‘light side’ manufacturers cited material/component supply as their primary constraint over the next year.

Product sales remained lower compared to a year earlier, however, mirroring ONS data that shows new build construction output is yet to fully recover above 2019 levels.

Rebecca Larkin, CPA Senior Economist said: “The welcome recovery in construction continues to drive the improving performance in the closely-linked product manufacturing industry, but pinch-points are starting to emerge. At the end of last year, around one-fifth of product manufacturers noted that issues around material and component supply risked constraining activity over the next 12 months. For the heavy side, this was the highest proportion on record and highlights the effect that global supply issues for imported products such as steel and timber, as well as maritime transport logistics, are having on UK manufacturing and construction.

“Given expectations of continued recovery in activity throughout 2021, concerns over capacity, particularly if large numbers of staff are required to isolate due to coronavirus, were also notable among manufacturers.”

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