16 January 1998

Tractor sales 18% down

FOR the UK tractor trade, 1997 will not be remembered as one of the better years – far from it. According to the AEA, the total number of tractors sold last year amounted to 15,272 units – some 18% down on 1996.

The main damage occurred during the last six months of a year which had looked initially to be holding its own. But with September down 27.5%, October down 27.8% and November down 30.1%, any hope of holding on to 96s total of 18,615 soon dissolved.

Even so, there will be those who gain some solace in realising that tractor sales in both 1991 and 1992 were significantly lower than last years. And there may also be some cheer in knowing that, while the number of units sold in 1997 is some 10% less than 1990, the amount of horsepower sold is actually 7% higher.

UK manufacturers taking a more global view can, in some respects, throw off feelings of gloom. Exports have risen to the point where the UK can boast to be one of Europes major suppliers. Half year figures produced by the AEA put machinery exports at £858.7m – 14.8% more than for the same period in 1996.

But what for 1998? Tractor sales will continue to fall, says the AEA, with the association predicting a total of between 14,000 and 14,500 – 5-7% down on 1997. &#42