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An ugly number that needs more explaining

January 22, 2010
Filed under From the Editors

Neil Pascale - Editor-In-Chief, Powersports Business MagazineFrom a dealer perspective, it’s very easy right now to get down on scooters as a viable profit center. Inventories are likely higher than what’s comfortable. Their lower cost means less potential profit, or as one dealer put it recently, “How many scooters equal one Goldwing?” And to add to all that, there’s now a nasty statistic that details the retailing of scooters. That number? Fifty-nine percent. That’s the percentage decrease in retail sales of scooters from Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) reporting members in 2009 compared to a year ago.

But there should be some additional thought given to that ugly number, and scooters as a whole.

First off, the 2008 comparison is an extremely difficult one as high gas prices that year led to record retail numbers. So to make a more equitable comparison, check out 2007. By doing that, we see scooter retail sales are off about 42 percent, or right in line with where street motorcycle sales fell this year vs. 2008.

So scooter sales certainly are no worse off than other on-road vehicles. (Include dual purpose bikes in there as well.) And it may be that they are in fact doing better than street bike sales because several prominent scooter manufacturers do not report to the MIC. And by some accounts, those manufacturers faired better than the MIC companies.

Lastly, don’t discount the type of consumer scooters bring to the industry — certainly a younger crowd and potentially an older one as well.

And when store traffic has been as dicey as it has been in 2009, any new consumer to the dealership is something to be cherished.

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