Sales in the main construction sector soared by a nominal 12.5 percent in 2011 to around 93.4 billion euros, according to the federal statistical office in wiesbaden on wednesday. According to the industry’s own figures, the last time it experienced similar growth was at the beginning of the 1990s. A flood of orders at the end of the year raises hopes of further growth.
"2011 turned out much better than expected," said heiko stiepelmann, spokesman for the main association of the german construction industry. The industry had recently expected a 4.5 percent increase in sales. December in particular exceeded all expectations. Sales rose by 24.3 percent due to the mild weather, and companies were able to work off their high order backlogs. "This year, too, things will continue to go auarts, but more moderately," stiepelmann predicted. The sector expects nominal sales growth of 2.5 percent.
Companies’ order books are well filled. In december alone, orders received were 14.1 percent higher in real terms – i.E. Adjusted for price – than in the same month of the previous year. "That was quite surprising," said stiepelmann. The strongest increase was in residential construction, at 26.1 percent. According to stiepelmann, many investors are investing in tangible assets such as real estate in view of the crisis in greece. Since not enough apartments have been completed in the past, germany is far from a real estate bubble, however, he said.
Order intake for the year as a whole increased by 4.4 percent in real terms. However, the increase in orders can only be attributed to growth in building construction (plus 9.3 percent). By contrast, demand in civil engineering decreased by 0.6 percent.
The survey covered companies in the main construction sector with 20 or more employees. The number of employees rose by an average of 2.6 percent over the year to 734,000 persons. This year, the construction industry association predicted that the number of employees would remain stable. In the past, thousands of jobs were lost in the industry.