Construction Products Association says manufacturers report a fall in sales although decline is at a slower rate

Construction product sales have continued to decline in the last three months, albeit at a slower rate than recent quarters, according to the Construction Products Association.

The CPA said its quarterly construction barometer read 29, up from 12 in the previous quarter and zero at the start of the year.

The barometer, compiled in conjunction with Ernst & Young, records the percentage balance of products manufacturers who think that sales are increasing or decreasing, with any figure below 50 indicating a majority seeing a fall in sales.

Noble Francis, economics director for the Construction Products Association, said the latest figure contrasted sharply with the first half of the year when virtually all product manufacturers experienced a significant fall in sales.

He said: “Product manufacturers expect the decline in sales to continue into the New Year, with private sector construction still anticipated to be weak and December’s Pre-budget Report indicating that government spending is expected to fall sharply over the next four years.

"It is critical that government does not cut spending in housing, education and transport infrastructure that is vital for long term economic recovery.”

Dominic McAra, director of Ernst & Young’s Construction Products team, said the score in this quarter's barometer showed some signs of encouragement for 2010.

He said: “Most companies are still expecting a continuation of tough trading conditions next year, but the hope is that 2010 will at least see a more stable position than seen in 2009.