BITA members are cautiously optimistic about the economic outlook for the forklift truck sector, with the UK economy generally performing better than previously forecast and growth figures revised upwards.
The latest qualitative survey, carried out for BITA by Oxford Economics, indicates that 40% of BITA members are more optimistic about general economic prospects than they were six months ago, with the remainder feeling the same – but none feeling less optimistic.
The survey, which is a key part of BITA’s exclusive biannual economic forecast for the lift-truck sector, shows that when it comes to expected sales the vast majority of BITA members are expecting orders to rise modestly or significantly – with none expecting sales to fall.
The percentage of respondents expecting a "significant increase" in sales has nearly doubled from around 10% six months ago to nearly 20% for this survey.
An increase in enquiries and demonstrations seems to have boosted positivity but these do not appear to have translated as yet into firm orders. In terms of the overall market in 2013, Oxford Economics believes that orders will amount to a total of 27,019 trucks, a 0.7% increase on 2012. However, it is predicted that by 2016 both actual shipments and new orders of trucks will have broken through the psychologically significant 30,000 barrier – back to pre-recession levels.
There has been a strong resurgence of demand for counter balance trucks, suggesting firms may have been more willing to replenish their equipment stock that had been anticipated in the Spring report. This has led to forecasts for counterbalance trucks being revised upwards to 13,806 for the year, an increase of 3.7% on 2012’s figure.
In contrast, warehouse bookings were weaker than expected with an anticipated total of 12,878, with forecasts for this year revised downwards to a decline of 2.4% compared to an earlier projected increase of 1.7%, however a return to growth is predicted for 2014.
James Clark, Secretary-General of BITA, comments: "The lift truck sector seems to be reflecting the wider sentiment that the economy is improving and the generally more positive economic outlook. The increase in enquiries and demonstrations is encouraging, but it will be interesting to see if these translate into orders in the coming months.
"The contrast between counterbalance and warehouse bookings is interesting but it should be remembered that in 2012 counterbalance bookings were 26% below their pre-recession peak, compared to warehouse bookings at just 8% below their peak."
The Forklift Truck Market Outlook includes a detailed overview of sector by sector performance, both in terms of lift truck 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.