Yesterday Caterpillar reported its latest monthly retail sales statistics and the numbers have never been worse: the 35th straight month of sustained drops.
Caterpillar’s performance is often seen as a gauge of the health of the global economy, as its machines are huge, expensive, and used in different kinds of projects to which companies and governments are only likely to commit if they’re confident in the economic outlook and their financial standing.
Caterpillar’s global retail sales posted a massive 16% drop in the past month, after dropping 9% a year ago and another 12% in 2013: the biggest annual drop since early 2010.
Sales are down more than $15 billion from its peak just four years ago and Caterpillar expects another 5% decline in 2016.
US sales tumbled 8% year on year, after a 4% decline in September and hugging the flatline for the past few months.
Elsewhere around the globe sales were also in decline: Asia/Pacific (mostly China) was down 28%, a dramatic drop from the 17% fall a month ago, EAME dropping 13%, and Latin America down 36%.
Caterpillar has now suffered a record 35 months, or nearly 3 years, of consecutive declining annual retail sales – unprecedented in its history.