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Mon May 20 2024

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UK plant sales fall 54% in Q2

27 Jul 20 Retail sales of construction and earthmoving equipment in the UK have started to recover after a dramatic fall when the coronavirus lockdown began.

Sales information collected for the Construction Equipment Associations shows that the number of certain machines sold in the UK fell by 74% in April 2020, compared with April 2019. May 2020 was 54% down on May 2020. Even in June sales were still down 36% in the year, but the worst was over.

Overall, the UK market for construction and earthmoving equipment fell by 39% in the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2019.

This is by unit sales, not by value. The value of sales – a more accurate indicator of market size – is not shared.

Unit sales in the second quarter of 2020 fell by 54% year-on-year. But even before the crisis gripped in March, sales were already in decline, with a 22% decline in Q1, compared with 2019.

The low point in new equipment sales due to the pandemic was reached in April, with sales just below 800 units. Recovery was underway in June, with sales reaching just over 2,000 units, as the return to work within the construction industry continued. 

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The chart below shows a ranking of sales for major equipment types, showing the size of the decline in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2019. This shows that the most popular equipment type, mini and midi excavators (up to 10 tonnes), has seen the strongest demand in the first six months of the year. Sales for this product were down by 23% in the first half of the year, which is less than half of the fall experienced by all of the other equipment types. Other equipment types experienced falls of 50% or more in sales, with telehandlers (for construction only) and compaction rollers seeing the biggest declines of over 60% compared with 2019.

Regionally, equipment sales have proved to be most resilient in Wales and the West Midlands, where first-half sales were down by only 19% and 26% respectively, compared with 2019 levels. In the southeast of England (excluding London), sales were down by more than 50% compared with last year.

The Republic of Ireland showed a 30% decline in sales in the first half of 2020, compared with 2019. Sales in Q1 were only 8% down on 2019 levels, but then fell by 51% in Q2.

The construction equipment statistics exchange is run by Systematics International Ltd in partnership with the Construction Equipment Association (CEA).

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