Materials sales slump confirms double dip

Published:  30 April, 2012

LONDON: A sharp fall in the sale of construction materials during the first quarter of the year has added weight to GDP figures showing a 3% fall in industry output.

Latest figures from the Mineral Products Association show sales of aggregates, ready mixed concrete and asphalt down. Crushed rock and sand and gravel aggregates fell by 13% and 12% respectively in the first three months of 2012 compared to the same period last year. Ready-mixed concrete and asphalt fell by 9% and 17%.

Jerry McLaughlin, chief economist at the association said: “These figures represent real deliveries of materials to construction projects, not opinion survey data, and they indicate that there is a real likelihood that construction activity will fall away and constrain economic recovery as we move through 2012 and 2013.

“There has been some criticism of the ONS data released on Wednesday which showed a 3% first quarter decline in construction compared with the fourth quarter and lower activity than the first quarter of 2011.

“These official figures are provisional, but they reflect just what our industry is experiencing on the ground.

“Outside the strong construction markets of Greater London and parts of South East England, lack of demand is becoming critical as public investment in construction falls away and there is little private sector construction growth to fill the gap.”

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