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Industry sales slow, but still up – November 13, 2006

November 13, 2006
Filed under Features

There’s plenty of ammunition from recent powersports statistics for either the optimist or pessimist to put a spin on the health of the industry.
The overall numbers from the Motorcycle Industry Council’s third-quarter report for the year are slightly above last year’s record totals, but there are signs of a slowdown.
For the first time in 2006, the monthly same store sales data provided to Powersports Business by ADP Lightspeed shows overall dealer sales down compared to the same month last year. Plus, dealers have seen signs of a general slowing.
“We’re seeing the traffic count in our stores being a little light,” said America’s Powersports President Jerry Gilding, noting the dealership group has not changed its advertising strategy. “It might be one of these things where the market takes a breather for a couple of months and hopefully we’re back on track.”
The optimist could counter that the recently released third-quarter MIC numbers point to an industry that is only seeing continued growth. Consider:

  • overall sales of ATVs, motorcycles and scooters that are reported to the MIC is at 1,372,133 through September, a slight increase over last year but a 5 percent boost from three years ago;
  • year-to-date on-highway sales are at 587,550, which are nearly a 22 percent increase from ’03;
  • ATV sales for September were nearly identical to last year at 64,158, and that number doesn’t include UTV sales, which are up double digits percentage-wise, according to some industry experts.
    Of course, the MIC third-quarter data also presents the pessimist some opportunities. For example:

  • ATV year-to-date sales of 529,059 continue the trend of decreased national quad sales, with the current year-to-date total marking a 5 percent decrease from ’03.
  • September scooter sales fell dramatically, down 60.1 percent compared to last year, as gas prices in the United States began to decrease.
  • Off-highway motorcycles continue their down year, falling nearly 11 percent compared to September ’05 and off almost 6 percent for year-to-date.
    “If you look at the third quarter alone, the market slowed quite a bit,” said Polaris’ Mark Blackwell, vice president of Victory Motorcycles and international operations. “But that’s not really a surprise because the third quarter last year is what we call a tough comparable,” especially considering September ’05 on-highway sales were up nearly 45 percent from the previous year.
    Looking ahead, Blackwell believes it will be “another great year for the motorcycle industry. We think the market’s going to end up between 4 and 5 percent. It’s great.”
    Michael Lock, Ducati North America’s CEO, was equally optimistic about the MIC third-quarter numbers.
    “I’m not dismayed by the overall market numbers,” Lock said, noting the third-quarter decrease this year could be linked partially to the Japanese OEMs not releasing new product in September as they did a year ago. “
    Plus Lock noted that it “hasn’t slowed down for us. We had a good September last year and we had a killer September this year,” he said.
    Along with the good news, bad news scenarios that marked the third quarter, the same couldn’t be said of other European brands. PSB

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