Ongoing Recovery in Q1 But Raw Materials a Rising Constraint

The recovery in construction product manufacturing continued in the first quarter of 2021, according to the Construction Product Association’s (CPA) State of Trade Survey. So far, the pick-up in construction activity has been led by private housing, infrastructure and the repair and maintenance sectors. Nevertheless, a constrained global supply of raw materials and components, as well as the associated increases in prices, is weighing on the outlook for the year ahead.

In the Q1 survey, 41% of heavy side manufacturers and 46% of light side manufacturers reported an increase in sales. Similar proportions reported an increase in annual terms, which points to activity rising above pre-coronavirus levels. In addition, both heavy side and light side manufacturers anticipated a rise in product sales over the next year, on balance. The government’s extensions of its job support schemes and housing market stimulus, plus activity on large-scale infrastructure projects, look to have underpinned confidence that the recovery will continue. The supply of raw materials and components now registers as the primary concern for product manufacturers, however, reflecting global supply issues for inputs such as steel, timber, PVC and chemicals.

Rebecca Larkin, CPA Senior Economist said: “The construction industry continues its V-shaped recovery, resulting in another quarter of increased sales for product manufacturers. This appears to be the case particularly in private housing, which is experiencing a flow of pent-up demand and policy support from Help to Buy and the stamp duty holiday. Infrastructure and the repair and maintenance sectors are also driving activity as work on major projects accelerates and homeowners and commercial occupiers re-assess their use of space. Encouragingly, manufacturers expect continued growth over the next year. This risks being held back by bottlenecks in the global supply of raw materials, however, notably in categories where a high proportion is dependent on imports. Inevitably, rises in input prices have followed and almost all manufacturers expect this inflationary pressure to persist over the next 12 months.

Key survey findings include:

  • 41% of heavy side firms and 46% of light side firms reported that construction products sales rose in 2021 Q1 compared with the previous quarter, marking the third consecutive quarter of growth.
  • On balance, 53% of heavy side manufacturers and 71% on the light side anticipated a rise in sales over the next 12 months.
  • On the heavy side, one-third of firms cited material/component supply as the factor most likely to constrain output over the next year. 40% of light side manufacturers cited this as their primary constraint.
  • 90% of heavy side manufacturers reported an annual rise in the cost of raw materials in Q1.
  • 88% of light side manufacturers reported an annual rise in the cost of raw materials in Q1.





Heavy side products are typically structural materials used early in the construction process and include materials used in transport and other civil engineering projects. Heavy side materials include: aggregates, cement, ready-mix concrete, structural and reinforcing steel. Light side products are typically installed later in the construction process and include internal fittings and services. Light side products include: heating and ventilation systems, plumbing, electrical and lighting, doors and windows, kitchen furniture and thermal insulation.

The Construction Products Association is the leading organisation that represents and champions construction product manufacturers and suppliers. This vital UK industry defines our built environment, providing the products and materials needed for homes, offices, shops, roads, railways, schools and hospitals. Our industry directly provides jobs for 373,000 people across 24,000 companies and has an annual turnover of £61 billion.

The CPA produces a range of economic reports that provide its members, policy-makers and wider industry with a detailed understanding of the construction market to facilitate planning and business development. Members of the Association are entitled to receive these insights at no additional cost. Non-members can make one off purchases or subscribe for a full information package.



Rebecca Larkin, CPA Senior Economist
Tel:      020 7323 3770

Matt McKeown, Senior Communications Executive

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