Commercial and retail construction contracts increased by almost 70 per cent in February according to figures released by Barbour ABI last week.

The value of projects awarded topped £1.1bn in February which is 67.9 per cent higher than this time last year and over a third (35.4%) higher than in January 2015.

Contracts for key projects such as the Pinnacle Building in the City of London were a major contributor to the surge and led to office projects accounting for a sizeable 70 per cent of all commercial and retail contracts awarded in February. Last month also saw a marked increase in the food-retailing sector, with projects making up 19 per cent of works handed out – a 10 per cent increase on February 2014.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said: “It’s good news that commercial and retail construction is on the up as, sector-wise, it is the second biggest contributor to the overall industry in the UK after housebuilding. Last month for example, it was widely reported that the decline in ONS Construction Output was because of a reduction in housebuilding, but it was in fact a dip in commercial and retail contracts that was mostly responsible for the downward trend.

“Overall there has been a surge in commercial and retail construction, but this boom is still very much led from the capital. In fact, London saw a 16.1 per cent increase in project value versus February last year, which far exceeds any other region. The West Midlands, for example, was next in line at just 3.7 per cent.”