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Trailer manufacturers and dealers are warning of a “trailer drought” in the UK ahead of the Black Friday and Christmas peaks, with prices for second hand trailers reaching unprecedented levels.

Industry experts say the shortage is driven by the recent demise of trailer manufacturer The Cartwright Group, the ongoing uncertainty caused by Brexit, the boom in internet shopping as a result of the pandemic and the temporary closure of trailer manufacturing facilities during the first pandemic lockdown earlier this year.

Paul Bratton, president of trailer manufacturer SDC trailers, told “There is a huge trailer shortage in the UK currently.

“The loss of Cartwrights and increased demand due to many operators' reluctance to invest in their fleets over recent years because of Brexit, has led to inflated prices in the used trailer market both at auction and dealer level and seen trailer manufacturers being full until the new year and unable to feed the immediate demand.”

He added: “Rental and leasing companies do not have the ‘spot rental’ trailers available and are at full utilisation with a clamour for trailers to service the traditional ‘peak’ on the run up to the festive season, and with Black Friday imminent it looks to be a crazy time with most of the population now on lockdown and clicking away on shopping sites.

“We at SDC are currently building around 135 trailers a week with over a hundred being 'bodied’ trailers and orders being pulled out of the factory as soon as the customer is notified of completion.”

Darren Holland at Tiger Trailers believes the driving factor is the shift to internet shopping.

He said: “With Cartwrights gone, around 3,000 to 4,000 trailers are not being produced in the long term - but in the short term this trailer shortage is being driven by Covid.

“The economy has changed and people are shifting to buying online, creating a massive requirement to move all these orders.

“We are fully utilised on rentals right now and you just cannot get hold of trailers. In addition the tenders that we would normally do next year in March we are doing right now as people realise there will be a shortage of supply in the industry.

“So it is not necessarily Cartwrights, so much as the transition in the way people shop and in the way people are panic buying. We are flat out with enquiries at levels we have never experienced before.”

Andy Livingstone, trailer sales manager at Stockport Truck Centre (STC) said trailer prices have risen sharply.

“It is massive. There is a drought on decent second hand trailer stock and we have seen prices go up because of it.”

He attributed the rise to the demise of Cartwrights, the internet shopping boom and the shutdown of trailer factories during the pandemic lockdown.

He added: “Every trailer has gone up in price and we are buying for far more than we did last year.

“Fortunately we have had stock during both lockdowns and we have been able to keep on supplying trailers - but I cannot see this drought ending until production levels come back.”