West European trailer demand hits high

The West European Trailer Market had the third highest level of new trailer registrations ever, surpassed only by the figures for 2007 and 2008 before the GFC.

However, there, there was a distinct weakening of the market in the second half of the year and Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Spain were all less buoyant markets at the end of the year than they were in mid-2016.

2016 will represents the peak of the market in the current economic cycle. Growth of 9.2 per cent in the first half and 4.5 per cent in the second resulted in 6.9 per cent growth for the year as a whole.

Since 2009 CLEAR has been forecasting that the market would level off in 2017 and then fall in 2018 due to a cyclical downturn. The analysts maintain this forecast, adding: “it may be that the trailer market’s relative weakness in 2H2016 is the first indicator of this sequence of events.

“There are of course other possible outcomes. Many economic forecasts show continuing moderate growth or even strengthening forecasts for West European countries. However the feeling at CLEAR is that any forecast showing everlasting growth should be regarded with suspicion.”

In addition, post brexit, economists in general agree that the UK economy is headed for difficulties at least in the medium term. Of particular interest to the trailer industry is the outlook for UK investment growth which is now forecast negative for every year from 2016 to 2018. This means that trailer sales in the UK will fall.

Within the big 7 economies of Western Europe, all except the UK are forecast to have reasonable levels of GDP and business investment in the 2016/17 period. However we are now approaching the 10th anniversary of the global financial crisis, which decimated the trailer market in 2009. As a result CLEAR concludes: “A cyclical slowdown in 2018 or 2019 is now almost inevitable.”

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