Figures released on March 19 revealed that commercial and retail construction contracts went up by nearly 70 percent in February.
The cumulative value of the projects awarded exceeded £1.1bn in February, representing a 67.9 percent increase over February 2014 and 35.4 percent higher than the January 2015 number.
The surge’s biggest contributors were the Pinnacle Building in the City of London and other major office developments that accounted for close to 70 percent of all February’s commercial and retail contracts. There was also a marked increase in the food retail sector, which made up 19 percent of all contracts awarded (an increase of 10 percent on February 2014).
Michael Dall, Barbour ABI lead economist, said that the rise in commercial and retail construction was good news all around, as it is the second biggest contributor to the UK construction industry after housebuilding. In February it was widely reported that a reduction in housebuilding was due to a decline in ONS Construction Output, but the downward trend was largely attributable to a decrease in commercial and retail contracts.
The report compiled and issued by Barbour ABI, which provides construction statistics and related data to the Cabinet Office, Treasury, and the Office for National Statistics (ONS), also examined regional trends in commercial and retail construction projects, several of which contradict recent comments by the Chancellor that paint the picture of a national recovery in the UK.
Mr Dall explained that there has been a surge in commercial and retail construction overall, but this rise continues to be spearheaded and propelled by activity in the capital. Compared to February last year, London experienced a 16.1 percent increase in the value of awarded contracts, a total that surpasses any other region in the country.
“The West Midlands, for example, was next line at just 3.7 percent,” he said.