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BITA members’ mood dips in latest Oxford Economics report members’ survey

The mood of BITA members is growing more pessimistic – consistent with the overall weakness and uncertainty around the UK economy – according to the members’ survey contained in the latest Forklift Truck Market Outlook.

Produced bi-annually by Oxford Economics on behalf of BITA the latest Forklift Truck Market Outlook for 2017 has just been published – revealing that members’ confidence has declined since the last survey in Spring 2017. Just over 50 per cent feel that general economic prospects for the coming 12 months remain unchanged compared to 85 per cent of respondents who felt this was the case in the Spring survey.

Perhaps more tellingly, just over 20 per cent of respondents felt less optimistic about general prospects for the coming 12 months whereas no respondents felt this way in the previous survey.

However on a brighter note, attitudes to sales remain reasonably optimistic. When asked about their firm’s own sales prospects over the coming 12 months, 80 per cent of respondents expect a modest rise in sales over the next year. However, a small proportion (10 per cent) now expect a ‘modest fall’ in sales. This is weaker than the Spring survey, where no respondents expected a modest fall.

Regarding orders, around 25 per cent expressed that their order books are ‘modestly better than normal’ compared to 70 per cent in the Spring survey – and 10 per cent now see their order positions as ‘modestly below normal’.

Commenting on the findings, BITA secretary-general, James Clark, said: “Looking across the last four Outlook reports, overall optimism was high in May 2016, took a dip in the Autumn report, with optimism returning, albeit at a lower level, in the Spring 2017 report, only to dip again this time. So quite a rollercoaster ride of sentiment among members – perhaps reflecting the volatility of the political and economic situation.”

Trends in specific fork lift truck sectors, counterbalance orders have been weak and volatile but are expected to rise modestly this year by 4.1 per cent year-on-year, easing down to 1.7 per cent growth in 2018, states the report.

Growth in warehouse has been strong so far this year, but with consumers enduring a severe squeeze, it is expected that order growth will ease in the second half of the year.

Jeremy Leonard, head of industry services for Oxford Economics, who compiled the report, said: “Despite Theresa May’s long-awaited speech in Florence, which appears to have helped to unblock the impasse in the Brexit talks, businesses continue to be wary of investing in a climate of Brexit-related uncertainty.”

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. The next Outlook report will appear in Spring 2018.

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