U.S. shipments of plastics machinery were already falling through the first half of 2008, but the decline accelerated in the third quarter, according to a report from the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
Total unit shipments of primary machinery declined by 21 percent from the third quarter a year ago, and 10 percent from the second quarter of this year, SPI said. Through the first nine months of 2008, unit shipments were off 13 percent from the same period in 2007.
The slowdown most likely is continuing in the fourth quarter. Equipment executives surveyed recently said the fourth quarter has been very quiet for capital equipment spending.
Economist Bill Wood, who analyzes shipment data for SPI's Committee on Equipment Statistics, said the equipment downturn will indeed become worse in the fourth quarter, and in the first half of 2009. More favorable conditions should emerge later in 2009 and throughout 2010, he said.
``This forecast is considerably darker than just three months ago,'' Wood wrote in his report. His forecast calls for a 5 percent decline in real dollar investment for new industrial equipment this year. Spending will drop another 9 percent in 2009, said Wood of Mountaintop Economics & Research Inc. in Greenfield, Mass.
More shipment data for each machinery sector is available in the online version of this story at www.plasticsnews.com.