Retail sales of construction and earthmoving equipment in the UK market grew by 2% in 2018, after experiencing a fall in the last quarter of the year
According to the construction equipment statistics exchange, prior to the 8% reduction in sales in Q4 (compared with Q4 2017), the trend over the previous two years had been to show steady, but slowing growth on a quarterly basis.
After showing modest growth last year, retail construction equipment sales in the UK market reached nearly 31,000 units.
Amongst the most popular machine types, crawler excavators (over 10 tonnes) showed the strongest growth, at over 16% ahead of 2017 levels. This pushed mini/midi excavators (under 10 tonnes) into second place at 4% growth year-on-year. Telehandlers experienced the weakest sales performance in 2018.
After weak construction equipment sales in the second half of the year, total sales in 2018 were 10% below 2017 levels.
The map below highlights percentage changes in equipment sales on a regional basis in 2018 compared with 2017. This reveals quite significant differences compared with the national total of 2% growth. The map indicates that the strongest sales were in London and Yorkshire, while the weakest sales of equipment took place in the North East of England and in Wales.
Construction output in the UK in 2018 showed only 0.7% growth, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This was the lowest level of year-on-year growth for the construction industry for five years. Against this backdrop, 2% growth in sales of construction equipment can be considered as a positive performance for the year, with sustained demand from the rental sector a key factor.
In contrast with domestic sales, UK exports of construction and earthmoving equipment revealed very strong growth in 2018, according to official customs data from HMRC. This reflects strong demand in many of the major overseas markets, and is significant for UK equipment manufacturers, as exports of equipment are estimated to account for over 60% of UK machine production. Imports of equipment also increased in 2018 and were 11% higher than 2017.