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First-quarter construction equipment sales down 22%

UK construction equipment sales

Coronavirus causes sales crash in March; major equipment types see falls of 27% or more during quarter

SALES of construction and earthmoving equipment in the UK market fell by 21.8% in the first quarter of 2020, compared with the same quarter in 2019, according to the construction equipment statistics exchange run by Systematics International Ltd in partnership with the Construction Equipment Association (CEA).

In line with expectations for this year, equipment sales in January and February were down by 6% compared with the same two months of 2019, however March this year saw sales crash by 45% compared with last year, due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis, taking the overall reduction for the quarter to 22%.    

In total, equipment sales in the first quarter of 2020 were just below 6,300 units, compared with more than 8,000 units in the same period of 2019, whilst in March this year sales were just below 1,800 units, compared with more than 3,200 units in March 2019.

The above graph, which shows quarterly sales on an index basis (using the first quarter of 2018 as 100), illustrates how sales have been on a downward path since 2018. UK sales tend to have a very distinct seasonal pattern and normally the first quarter would show an upswing from the fourth quarter the previous year. However, in 2020, first-quarter sales stayed at similar levels to the final quarter of 2019.

According to the construction equipment statistics exchange, with the exception of mini- and midi-excavators, which were down 9.1%, sales of all other major equipment types experienced falls of 27% or more in the first quarter of 2020, with compaction rollers seeing the biggest decline of 61.3%, compared with the same period in 2019.

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