Industry studies by major trade bodies have forecast a decline in activity in building services and wider construction industry.
B&ES conducted its second State of Trade survey for the period June to December 2012, which closed on the 1 February.
B&ES chief executive Blane Judd (pictured) said that while this showed a less rapid decline in turnover compared with the first half of 2012, falling order and enquiry levels pointed to worsening trade figures this year.
Optimism levels among B&ES members also fell from +5 per cent for the first six months of 2012 to -5 per cent in the second half of the year.
“This has caused another dent in business confidence which, when coupled with a continuing fall in tender prices and rises in materials costs, does not add up to a positive picture going forward,” Mr Judd told H&V News.
The Office of National Statistics also released weak figures last month, including news that the total volume of construction output figures for November 2012 was estimated to have been nearly 10 per cent lower than in November 2011.
The Builders Merchants Federation also released data showing national sales of building materials fell more than 16 per cent in the last quarter of 2012 compared with the previous quarter.
However, the figures were 2.1 per cent higher than the same period in 2011.
Philip Duffy, partner at global financial advisory and investment banking firm Duff & Phelps, said: “The pressures in the current market have been somewhat absorbed by the larger players but their survival comes at a cost to those that supply to them.”