From 2015 to 2017, demand for cladding, including bricks had been increasing in line with the generally positive growth in the construction market, reaching an estimated 46.7 million m2 in 2017. However, the overall market was fairly flat in 2018 and 2019, driven by falling levels of new builds in the offices sector and by a slowdown in the number of new housing completions. The Covid-19 pandemic is expected to result in a significant drop in the area of cladding installed.
As with the construction industry in general, there are other issues that could have a detrimental effect on the cladding sector, muting growth in installation volumes through to 2024. The economic impact of the UK’s exit from the EU is still unknown but there were signs of a slowdown in the offices sector in 2018 and 2019, which is a key end use sector for cladding systems. Other end use sectors such as retail and entertainment & leisure are expected to experience significant reductions in new work as a result of Covid-19, while growth in capital spending in both education and health are only forecast moderate growth between 2020 and 2024.
On a more positive note, the outlook for residential construction is for continued growth in the longer term, despite the setback to output in 2020 caused by Covid-19. Strong growth in housebuilding starts has driven up demand for facing bricks, and to a lesser extent cast stone and rendered blockwork. Underpinned by the ongoing demand for new housing and with completion levels being consistently below Government targets, the forecast is for demand for these products to be sustained over the medium term once the market picks up momentum post-Covid-19.