Construction equipment sales up 48% in UK

By Paul Lyons and Leila Steed02 February 2022

Chart showing construction equipment sales in total

Retail sales of construction and earthmoving equipment maintained their strength in the final quarter of 2021, and showed an increase of just under 18% compared with Q4 2020.

As a result, sales for the whole of 2021 finished the year at 48% above 2020 levels, reaching over 36,000 units for the equipment types covered in the construction equipment statistics exchange.

This means that sales last year exceeded the levels reached in 2018 and 2019, which were reported as being peak levels for the industry since before the “financial crash” in the decade before.

This is consistent with comments from many CEA members who have been saying that 2021 was a “record year” in recent times for product sales.

Suneeta Johal, Chief Executive at the CEA, said, “The latest statistics have revealed that sales maintained their strength in the closing months of the year and were 18% up in Q4 compared with the last quarter of 2020, which is very positive news for our sector. As a result, sales for the full year ended up at 48% above 2020 levels and exceeded 2018 and 2019 levels.

“The increase in demand for telehandlers and larger machines can be attributed to major infrastructure projects such as HS2. The construction equipment sector is thriving and supporting the government strategy for growth - Build Back Better.”

UK construction equipment sales by machine type

The pattern of sales for the major equipment types in 2021 compared with 2020 are shown in the chart below.

This shows the percentage increases year on year, ranked from the highest to the lowest.

Telehandlers (for the construction industry) saw the strongest growth, with sales reaching more than double the 2020 levels.

In contrast, the weakest sales were experienced by mini/midi excavators (up to 10 tonnes), with the rate of increase falling back to 33% in 2021, after being the strongest growing product in the previous year.

The construction equipment statistics exchange covers sales on a regional basis in the UK and N Ireland.

The map below shows the percentage differences for sales in the main regions in 2021 compared with the previous year.

This shows that sales were the strongest in the North West and North East of England, at over 75% above 2020 levels. In contrast, the weakest sales were experienced in the West Midlands, at only 15% above the previous year’s levels.

Chart showing construction equipment sales by region

Equipment sales in the Republic of Ireland are also reported in the statistics exchange, separate to UK sales.

Sales in the last two quarters of 2021 were at similar levels to the previous year, recording modest increases of approximately 2% for both quarters on sales in Q3 and Q4 of 2020.

However, after experiencing strong sales in the first half of last year, sales for the whole of 2021 finished at 26% above 2020 levels.

*The construction equipment statistics exchange is run by Systematics International Ltd. This scheme is run in partnership with the Construction Equipment Association (CEA), the UK trade association.

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