As forecast for the last two years, the market for new trailers in Western Europe will fall slightly in 2012, despite the fact that demand started the year up on 2011 in some countries. There are several related reasons why the market is not growing at the moment, even though the sales of new trailers are at levels last seen in the 1990s.
Clearly the economies of Western Europe are not in good shape. The debt crisis is very much in the minds of both consumers and businesses. The situation in Greece remains unresolved and the threat of contagion to Italy, Spain and Portugal remains a concern. However, the pattern of recovery from the 2009 recession is similar to previous recoveries, in that we had two years of growth (2010/11) followed by a year in which the economies failed to grow. In this respect the current situation is not atypical.
What is different in this downturn is that the demand for transport (measured in tonne-km) has fallen. At the end of 2011 the demand for road transport was 9% below the level of 2006. This is unprecedented – normally in a recession the demand for road transport has one year of zero or slightly negative growth then goes back to growing at a steady one to four percent.
When the demand for transport falls then fewer trailers are required in each country. It takes some time for the number of trailers in the fleet to adjust to the right level. When economies start to grow again the demand for transport will rise and the trailer fleet must be augmented to meet the new business environment.
Economic forecasts show a return to growth in most countries in 2013/14. This will lead to a growing demand for transport and an increase in sales of new trailers.
Gary Beecroft of CLEAR stated that “By 2014 we will back at the long term trend level of new trailer demand. Subsequent years will provide above trend levels of trailer sales.”