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Sun July 12 2020

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UK construction equipment sales slow

11 Feb Retail sales of mobile construction and earthmoving equipment in the UK fell by 6.0% in 2019 to reach just over 32,000 units.

Plantforce has a new 52-tonne Hyundai HX520LC working on the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset
Plantforce has a new 52-tonne Hyundai HX520LC working on the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset

Year-on-year sales volumes dropped in every quarter of 20-19, compared to 2018, culminating in a 12.3% decline in the last quarter of the year.

These numbers include excavators, loaders, compaction rollers and telehandlers sold into the UK construction industry. Among the types of machines not included in the data are cranes of all types and concrete pumps.

Sales are measured by number of machines, not by monetary value.

The Construction Equipment Association, which represents UK manufacturers, expected unit sales to decline after reaching a peak level in 20187. CEA data analyst Paul Lyons said there was also an impact from continued uncertainty over Brexit and stalled infrastructure projects, including HS2.

In the early part of 2020, sentiment within the UK equipment market does seem to be showing some signs of improvement, he said.

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The first graph (above) shows quarterly sales on an index basis from the construction equipment statistics exchange, using Q1 2018 as 100. This illustrates the downward trend compared with 2018. Previous versions of this graph showed an index based on Q1 2016, but company participation in the statistics exchange has increased to give more comprehensive market coverage in 2018 and 2019.

The CEA said that the fall in equipment sales during 2019 was mainly driven by two of the most populous machine types: mini/midi excavators and crawler excavators (over 10 tonnes), which showed reductions in sales of 10.7% and 4.5%, respectively.

By contrast telehandler sales showed a 7.2% increase in 2019. This was a result of very strong sales in the middle two quarters of the year, driven by continuing house-building activity.

Sales of some of the smaller volume equipment types has also been strong in 2019, as shown in the second graph below (grouped together in the ‘Others’ category), and showed a 3.9% increase last year. This category includes skid steer loaders, wheeled excavators and crawler dozers.

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