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UK market faces uncertainty

Wednesday, 25 Oct 2017 ( #844 ) - London, United Kingdom
News Story
A slump in confidence reflects the volatility of the political and economic situation. PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK
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 Outlook reveals that members’ confidence has declined since the last survey in Spring 2017. Just over 50% feel that general economic prospects for the coming 12 months remain unchanged, compared to 85% of respondents who felt this was the case in the Spring survey.

Perhaps more tellingly, just over 20% 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, 80% of respondents expect a modest rise in sales over the next year. However, a small proportion (10%) 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% noted that their order books are ‘modestly better than normal’, compared to 70% in the Spring survey; while 10% now see their order positions as ‘modestly below normal’.

Commenting on the findings, BITA secretary-general James Clark says: "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."

Counterbalance orders have been weak and volatile but are expected to rise modestly this year by 4.1% year-on-year, easing down to 1.7% growth in 2018, states the report.

Growth in the warehouse sector 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. For the year as a whole, growth of 3.5% is expected, moderating from 7.2% growth in 2016.
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