Overall, however, infrastructure orders in the 12 months to March 2003 dropped 12% on the previous year. Private industrial orders in the year to March fell 6% on the previous 12 months. In contrast, public housing and housing association orders rose 2% over the year.
Figures released by trade body the Builders Merchants Federation were more positive. Builders merchant sales increased 3.5% for the first quarter of the year on the same period in 2002. The 12 month comparison to March showed a rise of 2.3%.