More news to spoil your breakfast came in today. The latest consumer confidence barometer reading taken by GfK NOP shows consumers expectations of economic prospects in the coming 12 months at the lowest level since the pollster began asking the question in 1982.

What does this mean for construction? Well what it suggests is that there is serious cause for concern and yet more evidence that each and every construction firm should look closely at its business, ditch any complacency and consider how to steer itself through trouble times.

A quick look at the latest National Accounts data provides enough information to suggest all is not well. This poll data simply throws forward a little and suggests worse is yet to come.

Now the consumers' concerns may be unfounded, but I doubt it. The view that we are heading for recession, or that indeed we are in the mire already, does now appear to be commonplace and it would be foolhardy to dismiss it.

Construction derives its demand from the economy at large and from Government. Both are cash-strapped at present and this will inevitably, at some stage, impact on the industry. This may happen sooner rather than later as, sadly, construction is so easily seen as spending that can be deferred.

For me there seems to be now no room for complacency. Framework deals and contracts within long-term Government programmes may appear to offer shelter from the storm. But they offer simply that "shelter", not a solution.

This was not a luxury afforded house builders. They are currently reeling from the shock of seeing revenue streams dry up far faster than any had ever experienced before.

But there are reasons to be cheerful for construction firms this time around - assuming we are heading for a recession. Unlike in past recessions construction firms have better relationships with clients and greater transparency looking forward at what work is coming from where.

This, however, is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but it does buy time to react with consideration, rather than react with panic.

From my memory of reporting on the recession in the early 1990s, it was less the fall in workload that damaged the industry, but an almost frenzied panic reaction that led to firms buying work - in effect paying for the privilage of losing money.

If firms focus on profit rather than turnover this time around, there may be more hope for their survival. Construction is set up as a very flexible industry and it has better practices than in the past. Its firms should be able to ride out quite nasty shocks if they plan well.