Source: China State Council Information Office
Despite an eased pace of contraction, Britain’s manufacturing sector continued to see a sharp downturn in May as restrictions caused further widespread disruptions in economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said a report published Monday.
The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the manufacturing sector rose to 40.7 in May, up from a record low of 32.6 in April. Despite the increased level of the PMI, it still signalled a marked deterioration in overall operating conditions, said the report following a joint survey by IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).
“Those who typically see the glass half empty will note that the UK manufacturing sector remained mired in its deepest downturn in recent memory,” said Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, a London-based global information provider.
The impact by the COVID-19 pandemic were felt “across the manufacturing sector in May”. Rates of contraction in output, new orders and new export business were among the steepest in the survey history across consumer, intermediate and investment goods producers alike, said the report.
“Output, new orders and employment fell sharply again in May as restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 caused further widespread disruptions to economic activity, demand and global supply chains,” added Dobson.
Pockets of growth were generally linked to healthcare-related or personal protective equipment (PPE) products. Some firms also noted that inflows of new business showed signs of restarting as clients began the process of reopening and the lockdown restrictions implemented both in Britain and overseas are gradually easing, said the report.
“Even with the slight uplift in May’s sentiment as firms began to recover from the initial shock and looked to the future, optimism remained depressed,” said Duncan Brock, group director at the CIPS, a UK-based global procurement and supply organisation.
“Worries over safety for returning staff and repairs to broken supply chains will be uppermost in business minds, and are obstacles to be overcome before real recovery can begin,” said Brock, adding that uncertainty remained the “watchword for the months ahead.”