The Industrial Truck Association noted that although forklift sales in North America were down 5.1% from the strong 2019 figure, the forklift segment of the materials handling equipment market still exceeded expectations in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on North America’s manufacturing, trade and distribution, construction, and mining sectors A wide range of companies greatly reduced spending on forklifts and other material handling equipment as economic conditions deteriorated, restrictions on businesses were put in place, and international trade declined during 2020. In the face of changing economic activity, industrial enterprises, warehouses, construction firms, and other operators delayed strategic investments and the opening of new facilities, further reducing North America’s forklift needs.
On the other hand, forklifts are essential for the standard operations of many companies, so the region’s replacement needs moderated losses. In some cases, the pandemic provided opportunities to suppliers of fork lifts and other material handling equipment:
- The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic boosted demand for a variety of goods sold via e-commerce. To meet that need, Amazon and other companies added warehouse and fulfillment spaces, which required the purchase of new forklifts and related equipment.
- The vaccination campaign resulted in the construction of new specialty warehouses and the purchase of additional forklifts in order to facilitate the transportation of vaccines at a variety of sites.
The Industrial Truck Association notes that the material handling industry is poised for a strong 2021 having weathered the COVID-19 storm.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, particularly Global Materials Handling Equipment and Global E-Commerce. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.