Over 230 rental companies in Europe responded to the RentalTracker - jointly organized by the European Rental Association (ERA) and International Rental News (IRN) - and it is clear that business conditions in the second quarter of the year were not improving, with 81% saying that business in the quarter was lower than the same period in 2008.
It is well known that fleet investment will be lower this year, but the survey also asked about spending intentions next year. Two thirds of respondents will spend at least the same or more than in 2009, with almost a quarter anticipating higher levels of spending. A sizeable number - 34% - say they will reduce spending again in 2010.
Investment this year has been extremely low by the standards of recent years, so the intention to match or increase that level isn't necessarily good news. What will make depressing reading for equipment manufacturers is that the number of rental companies preparing to spend less in 2010 still outstrips the number expecting to increase investment.
Likewise, the general situation of oversupply of equipment is revealed in trends for fleet time utilization. Around 64% said utilization was decreasing during the second quarter and 25% saw no change.
Geographically in Europe, there is little difference in business sentiment between Europe's biggest rental markets, with typically 60% of respondents seeing a deterioration in trading conditions. The one exception to this was the UK, where just 40% reported a worsening environment.
Rental companies in every territory reported decreasing time utilization rates: Spain was the worst with 90% seeing lower usage rates, while Germany (78%), France (73%) and Italy (75%) were equally downbeat. Benelux was in a similar area - 67% reported falling utilization - while the UK and Benelux were noticeably better, with 60% of UK respondents seeing a decrease in utilization and 56% in the Nordic area.
The survey also allows analysis of business sentiment in different rental sectors. Here, the worst conditions appear to be in general equipment rentals (60% reported deteriorating conditions) and crane rental (55%), while powered access fared better, with less than half of respondents noticing further deterioration. The power/temperature control sector seems to be the most stable, with 40% seeing deterioration and 50% seeing stable conditions.
The results of this first RentalTracker give a ‘snapshot' of business conditions in the second quarter of 2009. However, the aim of a tracker is not just to pinpoint business sentiment now, but to identify short, medium and long-term trends.
That kind of trend tracking will become possible when we have more than one set of data. After our second survey - which is scheduled for the beginning of October - we will also produce a number of trend graphs showing how business views are changing.
For more information on the ERA/IRN RentalTracker, contact either Michel Petitjean, secretary general of the European Rental Association (email@example.com) or Murray Pollok, Editor of International Rental News (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The full results of the tracker survey will be published in the September issue of IRN, and will also be available online at www.khl.com/rentaltracker.
IRN and ERA would like to thank all those companies who took part in the first survey. Watch out for the second survey in early October.