Sharp drop in incoming orders in the first quarter
Italy was the first country in Europe to face the corona pandemic with comprehensive measures. The economic consequences can also be clearly seen in the current quarterly report of the Italian machinery association Acimall.
The first quarter of 2020 ended with a general decline in orders for machines and tools in the double-digit range - and affected the domestic market at an early stage, but with a slight delay then also many export markets.
The survey among members showed a significant overall decline in orders of 21.1 percent compared to the same period in 2019, with exports down 19.4 percent and exports within Italy down 25.3 percent. "It is obvious how the lockdown and the subsequent standstill of productive activities affected the results and triggered a demand crisis that will probably continue to affect the entire fiscal year. The intervention of national, European and global governments and authorities to support the economy and the individual industries will be crucial in the near future," says Dario Corbetta, Acimall's CEO.
The order backlog is unchanged at 2.6 months, with prices up 0.8 percent since the beginning of the year. In contrast to the order intake, sales remained largely stable in the first quarter with a "slight" decline of 8.8 percent. This can be explained on the one hand by the range of orders and the fact that many orders could still be delivered as planned. More worrying is the "gap" that will arise in the coming weeks and months due to a lack of orders. By then at the latest, the sales figures will also have fallen sharply.
The sentiment survey reflects precisely these concerns in the industry: 69 percent of those surveyed expect production to decline, 19 percent expect a certain stability and only 12 percent are looking forward to a continued positive trend. The employment figures are unchanged for 75 percent of the survey participants, 6 percent have hired new staff in the first quarter, and 19 percent have already cut staff. Stable inventories are reported by 44 percent, with 37 percent reporting an increase and the remaining 19 percent of respondents reporting a decline.
to the future with genuine concern, reporting a strong reluctance to buy or
that orders are being "put on hold". With regard to exports, 13
percent of those surveyed believe that orders will increase, 31 percent expect
no change and 56 percent of the participants believe that the worst is yet to
come, economically speaking. The domestic market is seen even more
pessimistically: Nobody believes in a positive development, 37 percent hope for
stagnation and 63 percent are convinced that the decline will continue.