Jane Embury looks at what recovery might look like.
We’ve all seen different predictions on how recovery in the construction industry will look.
Most predictions have been for a V-shaped recovery with mass vaccination allowing for a sharp increase in activity.
That model has been likened to a V-shaped recovery.
Now, the Construction Products Association (CPA) suggests that recovery might be W-shaped.
This predicts output rising 14% in 2021 and 4.9% in 2022.
That takes into account current lockdown restrictions before recovery in the second quarter of the year. That’s when vaccines are likely to be delivered to the majority of the population.
The 14% rise expected in 2021 follows an estimated 14.3% in 2020, mainly because of the onset of Covid-19 in the first half of last year.
However, the CPA warns that output is only expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
The CPA found that private housing was one of the quickest sectors to recover in 2020. The commercial sector has had a slower recovery.
To an extent, this will continue to be the case as home-working has proved successful, and will therefore impact on demand for new office space.
We’ve recently raised the issue of redundant offices, and the feasibility of repurposing them for residential use.
While we also recognise it’s an expensive option, better to make use of a building than letting it lie idle.
It also has the advantage of bringing people into towns and cities, and giving them a new vitality – something that will be crucial in the years ahead.
The last thing we want is for our towns and cities to be emptied of people. That would impact on the service sector – such as shops and cafes – on which their lifeblood depends.
It’s an uncertainty that won’t be resolved until we see what the new normal looks like. That will depend on how quickly consumer and business confidence is rebuilt.
That confidence will find new ways to boost the construction industry, whether building from the ground or repurposing buildings designed for one use into another.
It will also be interesting to see whether those who have been home-working will want to return full-time to the office. Again, it’s an issue we’ve highlighted, and which will impact on the commercial sector.
The good news is that construction is perhaps the safest environment in which to work, with large open spaces and the sector’s ability to socially distance. That’s partly why output is expected to rise over 2021 and 2022.
Whether it’s a V or a W, the future is brighter than it was just a matter of weeks ago.
Vaccination means that we can look forward to a new kind of normal. What that new normal looks like is up to consumer and commercial confidence.
But whatever it looks like, Wrightstyle is up the challenge.