BITA members remain broadly optimistic on sales and wider economic prospects.

6 June, 16

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.