According to UK-based consultancy, Clear International, the record 2016 result was only surpassed by 2007 and 2008 figures, both of which date back to before Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
While Gary Beecroft, Managing Director of Clear International (pictured), said the result was good news for the European market, he also warned there was “distinct weakening of the market in the second half of the year”.
“Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Spain were all less buoyant markets at the end of the year than they were in mid-2016,” he said – revealing that growth of 9.2 per cent in the first half and 4.5 per cent in the second resulted in 6.9 per cent for the year as a whole.
With that in mind, 2016 will likely represent the peak of the market in the current economic cycle, Beecroft explained.
Even though many economic forecasts are still optimistic about the Western European market going forward, he said that “any forecast showing everlasting growth should be regarded with suspicion”.
“The trailer market’s relative weakness in [the second half of] 2016 is the first indicator of a cyclical downturn.
“Of particular interest to the trailer industry is the outlook for UK investment growth [post-Brexit], 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, Beecroft added.
“However we are now approaching the tenth anniversary of the GFC which decimated the trailer market in 2009. A cyclical slowdown in 2018 or 2019 is now almost inevitable.”
As such, 2017 is expected to result in a small fall in trailer demand, with a larger drop in sales in 2018 “likely”.