UK forklift orders down 14.5 per cent in 2008

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UK orders for forklift trucks fell 14.5 per cent during 2008 to just over 26,500 – the lowest since 2001, according to the British Industrial Truck Association.

The figures, which only cover forklift truck manufacturers that are members of BITA, show that orders in the forth quarter, at a little over 4,700, were the lowest since the final three months of 1993.

In the final quarter of 2008, orders for reach trucks fell by 20.1 per cent, low level order pickers fell by 16.9 per cent and powered pallet truck orders fell by 11.5 per cent. Overall orders for warehouse trucks fell by 16.1 per cent.

The number of engine counterbalance trucks ordered in the UK was also disappointing, with a 13.5 per cent fall in 2008’s final three months, coupled with an 11.2 per cent fall in electric counterbalance trucks. The overall fall in counterbalance truck orders was 12.7 per cent.

The economic climate did not start to affect forklift truck sales until the second part of 2008. Just over 8,000 orders were placed in the first three months of the year, and around 7,500 placed in quarter two, but sales then fell sharply, with 6,000 orders in quarter three, followed by a slump to 4,700 for the final three months.

BITA secretary general James Clark said: “Early figures for 2009 do show a continued fall in order levels, and it is difficult to predict how quickly the UK forklift truck market will recover and return to the exceptional levels of success enjoyed by the industry in recent years.

“However, the lift truck industry is resilient, made up of stalwarts who have been in the field a very long time. Their experience and knowledge will undoubtedly help companies weather the storm, and BITA will remain a firm support to our members through these tough economic times.”

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