CE Barometer for March: conflict weakens construction confidence

By Mike Hayes16 May 2022

The CE Barometer survey for March was undertaken during the first three weeks of April.

By the time this survey closed, it had been almost two months since Russia invaded Ukraine. We were well past any hope that a quick and peaceful resolution could be found, and a sense of the wider repercussions of Russia’s aggression – certainly for the global construction industry – was beginning to sink in.

Looking at the previous month’s business activity, the majority of respondents (54.3%) reported unchanged levels. This number was up from 43.1% in the previous survey, with most of that shift coming from the group that had seen rising levels of business in the previous month. Already not a good sign.

This shift had a significant effect on the balance figure (positive results minus negative results), standing at just 5.7% - as opposed to 23.1% in the previous month.

Looking back to the same period in 2021, the trend is similar, with 42.9% of respondents seeing improved business (down 9.4%), and 34.3% reporting unchanged business (up 3.5%).

This represents a 6% swing to ‘worse’ when comparing March’s business to the previous month - surprising, given that we are in a period of Covid ‘recovery’.

Looking ahead, the shift is more subtle, but still shows a negative trend, with 30% of respondents expecting business to be better in 12 months’ time (down 2.3%).

Numbers anticipating a worsening business environment (28.6%) are up, but only 1.1%, but this moves the balance figure to just 1.4%.

While still a positive number, this is the least optimistic outlook seen on the CE Barometer since February 2020.

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