GROWTH in the retail price of construction materials in Metro Manila eased in April after the lockdown depressed demand for these goods, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said.

The construction materials retail price index (CMRPI) grew 0.8% year-on-year in April, slower than the increase of 0.9% in March, the PSA reported Friday.

Price indices represent a basket goods and services and how prices have moved relative to a base period. The CMRPI, which uses 2012 as the base year, measures the prices retailers charge for construction materials.

Slower price growth was recorded in carpentry materials (0.9% from 1.3% in March), plumbing materials (0.4% from 0.7%), and painting materials and related compounds (1.5% from 1.6%).

Meanwhile, the year-on-year growth in the following commodities remained unchanged from the previous month: electrical materials (0.7%), masonry materials (0.7%), tinsmithry materials (1%), and miscellaneous construction materials (0.5%).

“This slowdown can be attributed to the extended community quarantine (ECQ) as construction activities were virtually halted,” Security Bank Corp. Chief Economist Robert Dan J. Roces said in an e-mail.

“We saw this slowdown in construction activities contribute to the drawdown of first quarter gross domestic product, and we expect the figures to remain down by May as the ECQ was extended,” he added.

Luzon was placed under ECQ in mid-March to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A “modified” lockdown has since been implemented in Metro Manila where some industries were allowed to operate at least partially until May 31.

The economy shrank in the first quarter largely due to the lockdown. In the first three months of the year, gross domestic product declined 0.2%, ending 84 consecutive quarters of growth.

“We’ll probably see some pickup with the return of construction activities as quarantine measures are slowly relaxed,” Mr. Roces said. — Lourdes O. Pilar