Construction equipment sales fell by 6% in 2019

Retail sales of construction and earthmoving equipment in the UK market fell by 12.3% in the last quarter of 2019, compared with the same quarter in 2018. This continued the trend during last year of quarterly sales declining at increasing rates through the year compared with 2018. This significant fall in sales in the final quarter resulted in sales for the whole of 2019 showing a 6.0% reduction on 2018 levels, reaching just over 32,000 units.

Sales of equipment in 2019 were expected to decline after reaching a peak level in the previous year, but they have also felt the impact of market uncertainty created by Brexit, and in the second half of the year, further uncertainty regarding the future of the HS2 project, and other infrastructure projects. In the early part of 2020, sentiment within the UK equipment market does seem to be showing some signs of improvement, based on discussions at recent industry events. It is hoped that this is bringing an end to “the year of uncertainty”, and that 2020 may see a more stable market.

The first graph (above) shows quarterly sales on an index basis from the construction equipment statistics exchange *, using Q1 2018 as 100. This illustrates the downward trend compared with 2018. Previous versions of this graph showed an index based on Q1 2016, but this has been changed as a result of the good news that company participation in the statistics exchange has increased, and reflects a more comprehensive coverage of the market in 2018 and 2019.


The fall in equipment sales during 2019 was mainly driven by two of the most popular machine types, mini/midi excavators and crawler excavators (over 10 tonnes), which showed reductions in sales of 10.7% and 4.5%, respectively (see the second graph below). Strongest sales amongst the high volume equipment types has been experienced by telehandlers (to the construction industry), which showed a 7.2% increase in 2019. This was a result of very strong sales in the middle two quarters of the year. Sales of some of the smaller volume equipment types has also been strong in 2019, as shown in the second graph below (grouped together in the “Others” category), and showed a 3.9% increase last year. This includes growth in sales of skid steer loaders, wheeled excavators and crawler dozers.

  • The construction equipment statistics exchange was taken over by Systematics International Ltd. in 2017. This scheme is run in partnership with the Construction Equipment Association (CEA), the UK trade association.