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HVAC+R sector under COVID-19

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The HVAC+R  sector, although under the construction industry, in essence, is deemed an essential service. However, certain criteria are needed to be followed to operate under different lockdown levels.

“HVAC+R companies registered as SARACCA members can contact the association directly, for further information on criteria adjustments and compliance guidelines.” – Barney Richardson, Director of SARACCA.

As we come down in levels and the country reopens it is important to note that the construction industry will remain under pressure for time to come, as sites reopen and projects continue under strict regulations. According to a construction market intelligence firm Industry Insight, the industry is set to shed 120 000 to 140 000 formal jobs. This, of course, will include the HVAC+R sector.

There are 2 key predictions for the HVAC+R industry in South Africa:

Return to growth in 2021

It will take two to three years for the industry to return to positive growth. This is attributed to the lockdown and the subsequent downgrades by the rating agencies. Government is the leader in infrastructure development, but as finance comes under pressure, infrastructure projects will be put on hold or iced altogether.

Quoted from MoneyWeb these are 3 possible scenarios for the construction industry:

  • Scenario 1:The construction sector activity levels are forecast to decline by 22.5% in 2020, with a recovery to 4.8% growth in 2021.
  • Scenario 2:In the more optimistic scenario, there is a 30% probability construction activity levels will decline by 14.5% in 2020 but grow by 3.4% in 2021.
  • Scenario 3:The more pessimistic scenario, there is a 55% probability construction activity levels declining by 27.7% in 2020 then growing by 5% in 2021.

Slower demand in new developments

Maintenance and repairs will be the name of the game in the short-term, with new developments postponed until healthy consumer demand returns. Under level 3 road construction and maintenance returns, but the balance of the construction industry only returns at level 4. This Leaves the HVAC+R industry as one of the hardest hit.

Aside from the impact of COVID-19, over the past 3 years, the HVAC+R sector has evolved from a base of predominately larger companies to a scattering of smaller entities. COVID-19 could see the scales tipping in the favour of smaller entities with lower overheads and agile finances. All this is speculation at best, as market conditions change daily. The unpredictability of the virus, in all senses, is the true killer.

Understanding the guidelines

Any HVAC+R company operating during lockdown understand the frustrations experienced with the heavy administration burden. SARACCA offers members continuous updates on the guidelines published by relevant buildings associations and the government. To contact SARACCA virtually, visit www.saracca.co.za

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