Sharp fall in European equipment sales

24 July 2008

The mid-year review from forecasting company Off-Highway Research predicts a -19% fall in European construction equipment sales this year. The steepest declines will be seen in Ireland, Spain and the UK.

Commenting on the reason for the decline, Off-Highway research said, "Discussions with the industry in July have frequently suggested that the year started well but went wrong after April or May. One common thread is a loss of nerve in the rental industry."

It continued, "A second factor in several markets is the collapse of overheated property development, which has been behind the falls in Spain and Ireland. Some 40% of the fall in 2008 has come from those tow situations. The UK, with its own problems in the housing finance sector, has also contributed an above average amount to the downturn."

According to the report, construction equipment sales in Spain will drop a massive -62% this year, from 21057 units last year to 8055. The much smaller Irish market will see a -45% fall from 5200 machines last year to 2870 in 2008. In the UK a -23% fall in sales is expected, from 39403 machines last year to 30480 pieces of equipment in 2008.

Although these three countries will see the sharpest falls, Off-Highway research expects every market in Western Europe apart from Portugal to see a decline in sales this year. As a result, it expects 171400 machines to be sold in the region this year, a -19% decline from the record volume of 211740 units seen in 2007.

In unit terms, this means fewer 40340 machines being sold in Europe this year than in 2007. The declines in Ireland, Spain and the UK add up to 24235 units - 60 % of the total decline.

Compact impact

The decline in residential construction and slowdown in rental companies' buying is seen as impacting particularly hard on the lighter end of the equipment market. According to Off-Highway Research, mini excavator sales will fall -25% this year, with backhoe loader sales down -29%, skid steer loaders dropping -28% and telescopic handlers slipping -17%.

Having said that , there will be falls in all equipment categories this year. Of the other high-volume products, crawler excavator sales are forecast to fall -13% and the mid- to large-sized wheeled loader market will fall -6%.

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