BITA Statistics 2016 – BITA members remain broadly optimistic on sales and wider economic prospects

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BITA members remain broadly optimistic on sales and wider economic prospects

Latest Oxford Economics forecast indicates positive outlook – and confirms  forklift sales returned to pre- recession levels in 2015

The latest Forklift Truck Market Outlook for 2016 produced by Oxford Economics on behalf of BITA indicates the UK economy’s performance broadly remaining on a positive path, but with uncertainty around the EU referendum vote looming large.

Reflecting this uncertainty, and as companies push back expansion plans waiting for the result, UK GDP growth is seen as 2% for 2016, compared to 2.3% in 2015. The UK economy continues to grow, but consumer spending is due to slow as the boost to disposable incomes as a result of falling petrol and diesel costs fades.

Industrial production continues to struggle, with a contraction of 0.2% predicted for this year, hit by recent poor performance from the construction sector. Overall, industrial activity as well as economy-wide investment is expected to remain weak, with investment growth forecast to grow 2.9% this year, compared to 4.1% in 2015.

“Regarding orders and shipments for counterbalance and warehouse trucks, most prominently 2015 was the year which finally had orders and shipments returning to pre-recession levels”, said Jeremy Leonard, Head of Industry Services for Oxford Economics. “In 2015 shipments for counterbalance trucks soared to 15,170 units, and for 2016 orders for counterbalance trucks are forecast to grow to 16,171.”

The warehouse segment was also strong, with the 2015 growth in orders being 14.1%, coming in at 17,500 units for the year, and shipments up at 15,605 units. The forecast here remains strong reflecting the shift towards more online purchasing. However again the uncertainty around a possible Brexit and stalling global economic growth is a factor.

The BITA members’ survey, which also forms part of the report, revealed a broadly optimistic outlook among members, continuing from the autumn survey.

Just over 37% of members identified themselves as more optimistic about general prospects in the coming 12 months, but there were fewer who felt the same about general prospects for 2016 compared to those surveyed in 2015. There was also a small increase in those saying they were less optimistic. But taken on balance there is a broadly optimistic outlook, but with less consensus that in 2015.

A quarter (25%) expected their company’s sales to fall modestly, but almost the exact same figure expected their sales to rise significantly.

When it comes to future growth, the retail and distribution sectors are viewed as having the most potential, with 47% of respondents predicting the most sales growth in one of these sectors in 2016. This is reflected in a stronger outlook for warehouse truck orders, although there are strong orders too on the counterbalance side consistent with a transition from extending leases to actually ordering new trucks.

James Clark, Secretary-General of BITA, comments: “It is great to see that, as we all hoped, 2015 was the year that forklift sales finally returned to their pre-recession levels, with sales forecast to continue their surge in 2016.

“The forecast around warehouse remains strong reflecting the continuing shift towards more online purchasing. However the uncertainty around a possible Brexit and stalling global economic growth remains a key factor.Manufacturing performance is lagging behind that of the wider economy, which could impact counterbalance orders as the year progresses.”

The Forklift Truck Market Outlook includes a detailed overview of sector by sector performance, both in terms of forklift product categories and customer business divisions. It is prepared for BITA by independent economic consultancy Oxford Economics and is available exclusively to BITA members as one of the key membership benefits.

BITA Statistics 2015 – BITA members optimistic on economic prospects and sales

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BITA members optimistic on economic prospects and sales

Latest Oxford Economics forecast indicates positive outlook

BITA members are optimistic about the economic outlook for the forklift truck sector, with the UK economy exceeding expectations and GDP growth revised upwards.

The latest qualitative survey, carried out for BITA by Oxford Economics, indicates that the majority of respondents expect market conditions to remain constant, 17% thought they would improve, and none expected conditions to deteriorate.

The members’ survey, which is a key part of BITA’s exclusive biannual economic forecast for the forklift sector, shows that when it comes to expected sales the vast majority of BITA members are expecting orders to rise modesty (83%) or significantly (17%) – with none expecting sales to fall. Regarding forklift prices, 83% expected that prices would rise modestly, reflecting growing demand.

The broader economic survey revises upwards the forecast for UK GDP growth, from 2.7% to 2.8% which gives the UK the highest forecast growth of all the G7 countries, including the US.

Jeremy Leonard, Oxford Economics’ Head of Industry Services said: “We expect that 2015 will be the year when total shipments finally break through the pre-recession sales peak, with total shipments of 30,399 units forecast, representing a growth of 10%. Orders are also forecast to grow by 6.8% to a total of 32,087, above their 2007 peak.”

Performance in the warehouse sector is the real success story. In 2014 total warehouse shipments grew by 11.5% compared to the forecast of 10.2% and orders came in ahead of expectations at 17.5% versus the 11.7% forecast. This has resulted in the forecast for 2015 being upgraded as consumers’ rising disposable income, related to falling petrol and energy costs, has facilitated increased spending so boosting online shopping and driving the warehouse and distribution sectors.

In comparison counterbalance shipments since the last report have been relatively disappointing, but this comes off the back of previous strong growth. In 2014 shipments grew by 6.1% compared to the forecast of 6.9%. This has resulted in the forecast for 2015 being downgraded slightly, but counterbalance orders and shipments are expected to begin picking up in the second half of 2015 as the improving economy drives new orders and confidence expands in manufacturing, key to counterbalance orders.

James Clark, Secretary-General of BITA, comments: “The forklift sector is reflecting the wider sentiment that the economy is improving and the much more positive economic outlook. Hopefully this really will be the year that total shipments exceed the pre-recession sales peak.

“The contrast between counterbalance and warehouse bookings is interesting as warehouse surges ahead off the back of the continued growth of online shopping and rising disposable income. Manufacturing confidence seems to be lagging behind that of the economy generally but hopefully as this improves we will see counterbalance shipments beginning to climb, supported by the new generation of ultra-low emission trucks coming through, and hybrid versions which can be used inside and out.”

The Forklift Truck Market Outlook includes a detailed overview of sector by sector performance, both in terms of forklift product categories and customer business divisions. It is prepared for BITA by independent economic consultancy Oxford Economics and is available exclusively to BITA members as one of the key membership benefits.