Sentiment on the European construction industry touched a low point in December, following the normal seasonal pattern.
With poor weather conditions, fewer daylight hours and the Christmas holiday all coming this month, it is unsurprising that construction activity always tends to slow down. In November a negative balance of -6.6% of respondents said activity levels were lower in that month than in October. That slowdown deepened to -13.0% in December.
The balance figure is the percentage of positive responses minus the percentage of negative responses. A positive figure indicates growth, a negative one contraction. This was a decline from the positive result of +1.2% seen in October.
However, the survey participants remained optimistic about the future, with a balance of +28.6% saying they expected to be busier in a year’s time than now. This was down a little on the previous few months, but still very strongly in positive territory.
However, perhaps an area for concern was the fact that a balance of -7.8% of respondents said activity levels this December were lower than a year ago. This might indicate a genuine like-for-like slowdown in the industry, but equally it could reflect other factors such as worse weather from year to year.
These mixed results took the overall CE Climate figure, a composite index of all survey data, to +2.6%, the lowest it has been since December 2014. This may not be anything to worry about – seasonal low point in this measure of confidence usually comes in December. The difference between the normal seasonal pattern and a genuine slowdown should be seen in the first month or two of 2016, when activity would normally pick up as the winter recedes.
The survey, which takes just a one minute to complete, is open to all construction professionals working in Europe. The CE Barometer survey is open from the 1st to the 15th of each month on our website. Full information can be found at www.cebarometer.eu