Blane Perrotton, managing director of national property consultancy and surveyors Naismiths, has commented on the latest UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index report published by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply.
He said: “Amid the pain, there is still progress – and flickers of positivity too. While the official output figures show the construction industry began the year in retreat, the PMI data reveals that, on the front line, activity is holding up surprisingly well.
“There’s more than a dash of déjà vu to this latest report. The overall number of new orders has essentially flatlined since the start of the year as the Brexit merry-go-round has cooled investor appetite. However, after a brief wobble during the first quarter, the residential sector has resumed its role as standard bearer for the industry as a whole – and the uptick in commercial sector activity is a welcome return to form.
“Yet behind the modest progress, the fundamental issue remains unsolved – patchy levels of confidence. While the PMI researchers found that optimism across the UK had slumped to a seven-month low in May, some regions – such as the north west, the West Midlands and Bristol – continue to see buoyant levels of both investment and sentiment.
“Such a mixed picture at the regional level means that, without an improbably sudden end to Brexit-related uncertainty, the best the industry can hope for is to maintain its current halting pattern of one step forward, two steps back.”