As per news records, in the fourth quarter of 2017, retail sales of construction and earthmoving equipment in the UK market grew by 7.4% compared with the same period in 2016. This took total growth for the year to 7.6%, compared with 2016, reaching approximately 30,000 units for the year, according to the UK equipment statistics exchange.
Equipment sales in the UK market continued to show a distinctive seasonal pattern in 2017, reaching a peak in the second quarter, and then ‘bottoming’ in the last quarter. The accompanying graph illustrates sales on an index basis, with the first quarter of 2016 representing 100.
Overall confidence within the equipment supply chain remained positive in 2017, and appeared to be influenced by the progress made on major infrastructure projects, such as HS2, which will provide additional demand for equipment in the coming years.
UK exports of construction and earthmoving equipment also showed very strong growth last year. Official customs data from HMRC shows that exports reached £2,917 million, an increase of 22% on 2016 levels.
This reflects improving demand in many of the major overseas markets, as well as the benefit of the weaker sterling exchange rate. Exports of equipment are estimated to account for approximately 60% of UK machine production, and are very significant for the industry.
Imports of equipment also increased in 2017, to £1,488 million, which was 16% higher than 2016, and reflects the improved domestic demand for equipment, as highlighted above.
As a result, the overall trade surplus for equipment showed a 30% increase in 2017, reaching £1,429 million.
*In 2017, the construction equipment statistics exchange was taken over by specialist data-processing company Systematics International Ltd. The scheme is run in partnership with UK trade association the Construction Equipment Association (CEA).