Shortages across the construction industry have been widely reported, compounding expected labour shortages due to COVID19 and the ‘ping-demic’. The Builders Merchants Federation has specifically noted a shortage of plumbing and roofing materials, and timber. Allmat have experienced shortages in thermalite blocks, cement, timber, plaster boards, PIR insulation, chipboard, ply/OSB sheets and quite a few more.
It is difficult to pin-point a specific cause, but various issues have been identified:
- Factory closures during the first UK lockdown leading to pent up demand, coupled with reduced output since due to new, safer processes allowing for social distancing.
- Local coronavirus restrictions affecting output of overseas manufacturers.
- The impact of Brexit, be that issues with paperwork or a hesitance to trade with the UK due to perceived ongoing issues.
- A shortage of shipping containers because of congestion at the ports, leading to a significant increase in the price of shipping. While this was beginning to ease, the blockage of the Suez Canal has placed renewed pressure on this supply.
- Large infrastructure projects, particularly HS2, monopolising supply that is available.
- Certain materials, such as timber, are simply experiencing a global lack of supply. Other countries are prepared to pay more to secure their supply, pushing the UK lower down the pecking order.
Due to high demand, all merchant sectors have been on allocation of certain products but we are working hard to find new suppliers to get back on track. The supply of cement and timber seems to be improving and we are hopeful that thing can only get better from here on.
The construction industry has continued to operate safely and effectively, through incredibly difficult times and we should all be proud of ourselves. It has flourished and seen an increase in demand, which gives us great hope for the future. We see huge potential ahead and are investing in new staff at Allmat to improve customer service and satisfaction.