Worst of supplier delays 'seems to have passed'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
7 January 2022

The worst of supplier delays in the UK construction sector “seems to have passed”, according to the latest PMI.

A third (34%) of survey respondents reported supplier delays in December, down on almost half (47%) in November. Where longer wait times were reported, this was mostly linked to international shipping delays and the lorry driver shortage.

Fewer supply shortages contributed to the slowest pace of input price inflation for nine months.

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index slipped to 54.3 in December, down on 55.5 in November but still above the 50 no-change threshold.

The slowdown was blamed on tighter pandemic restrictions and rising Covid cases acting as a break on recovery, particularly in the commercial sector.

Tim Moore, director at IHS Markit, said: “The worst phase of supplier delays seems to have passed as the availability of construction products and materials continued to turn a corner in December. While suppliers to the construction sector have caught up on backlogged work and boosted capacity, there were still widespread reports citing unresolved transportation issues and driver shortages.”

He added: “Input cost inflation moved down another notch in December, helped by the alleviation of some supply chain pressures. The latest rise in purchasing prices was far slower than the 24-year peak seen last June.”

House building saw the strongest growth, while recovery in commercial building eased and civil engineering activity decreased slightly.

Duncan Brock, group director at CIPS, said: “Though the overall index moved down slightly in December there was light at the end of the tunnel for builders in terms of the strongest order numbers since August, reduced pressure on business costs and some improved delivery times for essential materials.”

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