It was a mixed quarter for construction product manufacturing in 2024 Q1, reflecting the varying demand in the different sectors of the construction industry that manufacturers’ products feed into. Sales declined for a seventh consecutive quarter for heavy side manufacturers, whose products are typically used in the earlier, structural stages of construction. Along with lower house building activity and fewer large home improvements projects, persistent rainfall in February and March is likely to have affected outdoor work and heavy side demand during the quarter. In contrast, light side sales increased in Q1, marking a swing back into growth after two quarters of decline. Light side products are more likely to be used in the interiors and finishing stages of construction and, therefore, would have been less affected by the weather. Light side demand also continued to be buoyed by the strength of refurbishment activity across the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as energy-efficiency work under government-funded schemes such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. Encouragingly, both heavy side and light side manufacturers shared a favourable view when looking ahead, with sales growth expected in both the next quarter and the next year as the economic and construction recovery begins to take hold from the second half of the year.

Key survey findings include:

• 36% of heavy side firms reported that sales fell in 2024 Q1, the seventh consecutive quarterly decline
• Sales rose for 24% of light side firms, swinging back to growth after two quarters of decline
• 79% of heavy side manufacturers and 59% of those on the light side expect sales to increase over the next 12 months
• Demand remains the factor most likely to constrain output in the year ahead
• Cost inflation continued to moderate for heavy side firms, but light side firms reported cost pressures from wages & salaries

CPA State of Trade Survey 2024 Q1