Commercial project starts surge ahead

Project starts in commercial construction for December 2013 were 15% higher than for December 2012, according to the Glenigan Index. The figures showed the second consecutive quarter of growth in non-residential construction starts for the first time since 2010. Retail starts were double the level of the final quarter of 2012, and education project starts were up by 35%.

Strong growth in the retail, office and industrial sectors helped to drive construction activity during the final quarter of 2013. The value of non-residential project starts rose by 21%, with gains in commercially funded and education projects.

The monthly Glenigan Index is based on research of every construction project starting in the UK over the previous three months and provides an indicator of developing activity in the industry.

Office construction activity continued to strengthen, up by 20% on a year ago, while industrial construction rose by 15%. Social-housing project starts were 23% higher year on year. However, health project starts were 9% lower than a year earlier, while community and amenity starts were down 18%.

Commenting on the figures, Allan Wilén, economics director at Glenigan, said, ‘Our expectations for construction activity are positive, in line with the brightening economic outlook. However, recent consumer data has underlined the importance of business investment to sustaining a recovery that has been based so far on consumer spending.

‘Business sentiment remains high, and firm occupier and investment demand for new industrial and logistics, office and prime retail space will drive further rises in new starts during 2014.’

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