This has led some contractors, like Carillion and Mace, to consider cutting staff. And consultants in the commercial sector are turning to PFI deals or looking outside the UK.
So, an entirely depressing picture for the commercial sector? Well, there are bright spots. For example, developer Land Securities is pushing ahead with a £190m office block in central London; construction starts on 20 January. And demand for offices remains high in Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
We should also remember that offices do not make up the entire commercial sector. Supermarket giants like Tesco and J Sainsbury have gargantuan build programmes – Sainsbury was the UK’s biggest client last year, letting nearly £500m of work. And Tesco is to embark on the rebranding and refurbishment of the 862 local stores it acquired after buying rival retailer T&S last October.
45% How much of the commercial sector is offices
33% How much of total UK workload is commercial
12% How much orders for offices fell in the year to 30 September
The year ahead
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Tough days in the office