Last year featured the third-highest level of new trailer registrations ever, surpassed only by 2007 and 2008, according to consulting group CLEAR.
This might look like good news for the trailer industry, and in fact it is. However, 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 represent the peak of the market in the current economic cycle. Growth of 9.2% in the first half and 4.5% in the second resulted in 6.9% growth for the year as a whole.
Since 2009 CLEAR has been forecasting that the market would level off in 2017 and the fall in 2018 due to a cyclical downturn.
There are 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 seven economies of Western Europe, all except the UK are forecast to have reasonable levels of GDP and business investment in the 2016/17 period.
Gary Beecroft, director of CLEAR, said, “2017 is expected to result in a small fall in trailer demand but a larger drop in sales in 2018 is now likely.”