The IHS Markit / CIPS Flash UK Manufacturing PMI® for May read 40.6, up from April’s survey record low of 32.6 but still substantially in the contraction zone.
Production volumes dropped sharply in May (the production index read 34.9) and the overall pace of decline was the second-fastest since February 2009. Around 54% of manufacturing companies reported a fall in output during May, while 24% signalled an expansion since the previous month. Where output growth was reported this was often linked to healthcare-related products.
Survey respondents also attributed rising production to the reopening of manufacturing supply chains and, in some cases, renewed demand from the construction sector. Manufacturers commenting on initiatives to end factory shutdowns mainly noted a gradual increase in output and reduced plant capacity following social distancing measures.
However, there were widespread reports of a severe drop in customer demand during May, especially across the automotive supply chain. A number of firms noted that reduced production schedules among key clients had negatively impacted order books.
Data for the flash survey was collected between 12th and 19th May. The final PMI report will be published on 1st June.