Retail sales of construction and earthmoving equipment continued to show very strong growth at the end of 2022. Sales in Q4 were 20% above the same quarter in 2021, and as a result, sales for the full year were 2.9% above 2021 levels, reaching 37,400 units. As reported in previous updates this means that last year saw equipment sales at “record” levels. By exceeding 2021 levels, which were higher than the peak levels reached in 2018 and 2019, sales in 2022 were the highest since before the financial crash in 2008.
An additional feature in the construction equipment statistics scheme in recent years has been the recording of machine sales by engine type, including sales of electric-powered equipment. For 2022, this shows that sales of electric-powered machines were double the level of sales in 2021. While this illustrates the progress that is being made to decarbonise within the sector, annual sales of electric powered equipment are still in the hundreds and highlights the need for more investment in charging infrastructure and the need for further development and promotion of electric power within the industry.
Strong sales of equipment in the last quarter of the year indicate that some of the supply chain issues experienced within the sector earlier in the year have begun to ease. Very strong sales of excavators of all types in Q4, as reported below, were certainly a welcome change from earlier in the year when the market experienced supply difficulties from Asian markets, in particular.
The pattern of sales for the major equipment types is shown in the chart below, comparing 2022 levels with the previous year. This shows percentage changes in sales ranked from the highest to the lowest and continues to show a mixed pattern for the different machine types.
Telehandlers (for the construction industry), showed the highest sales last year, at 15% above 2021 levels. Sales of Wheeled loaders were weak in the last quarter and ended up being the poorest performing of the main equipment types last year at 3.5% below 2021 levels. In contrast, sales of Road Rollers picked up at the end of the year and only ended up at just under 2% below 2021 levels after being much lower earlier in the year. As highlighted above, sales of Mini/Midi excavators and Crawler excavators picked up significantly in Q4 last year. After being well behind 2021 sales levels for much of the year, Crawler excavators ended up at just under 3% above 2021 levels and the most popular product, Mini/Midi excavators saw sales reach similar levels to 2021.
The pattern of sales on a regional basis in the UK and N Ireland is shown in the map below for 2022 compared with 2021. This continues to show a very mixed pattern across the regions.
The strongest sales in 2022 by quite a margin were in the West Midlands, showing a 27% increase from the previous year. In contrast, three regions saw lower sales last year in London (-5.5%), the North West (-4.8%) and the South East of England (-3.8%).
Equipment sales in the Republic of Ireland are also reported in the statistics exchange. Sales in 2022 were 8% below 2021 levels, reaching 1,800 units, after seeing declines in the last three quarters of the year compared with 2021 levels.