After the shock delivered by Covid-19 in in 2020, I was looking forward to a return to normality in 2021. But now, as I write, we are once again facing the prospect of another Christmas spent avoiding people instead of enjoying their company.
Gatherings are being cancelled; travel to some European countries is restricted to ‘essential’ visits and masks are again mandatory nearly everywhere.
If anything, 2021 has been tougher than 2020. Last year we marvelled at how well the construction industry had coped with lockdown and adapted to new site operating procedures. It still soldiers on, but against a mounting barrage of obstacles – and Covid is just one of them.
Shortages – of materials, labour and lorry drivers – have hampered growth and Brexit continues to frustrate the industry.
In September, our annual review of the Top 100 construction firms noted a general weakening in company finances. But that was not entirely due to Covid; the process had already begun before the pandemic hit.
And in this issue of the magazine, our Sector Focus on house-building paints a similar picture – the top 20 players have seen revenues stagnate and profits slide, an accelerating trend that pre-dates Covid.
Of course, 2021 was not entirely without its triumphs – we’ve tried to acknowledge some of these in our review of the year, on page 24.
So here’s to a happy New Year, and better things in 2022.