Surging Mower Sales: Good News for Powersports?

by

Joe Delmont

Now, that’s a good question.

If a homeowner is willing to pop for a $10,000 deluxe lawn mower, does that mean he’s likely to spend a similar amount for a motorcycle or a SxS vehicle this year? Or does it mean that the purchase of one fancy motor machine is enough for now? I don’t have the answer, but I just the fact that consumers are spending 10,000 bucks for a machine with more power and features than they need— really an unnecessary purchase— seems to bode well for our industry. It could be another positive sign of sales improvement over the next few months.

The Wall Street Journal today reports that after double digit decreases for the past two years, U.S. shipments of riding mowers are expected to climb more than six percent over the next two years. At John Deere, for example, sales are “far exceeding” forecasts, according to the story.

We’re not talking basic grass cutters here; the machines that sell have iPod compartments, chrome hub caps, comfortable seats, plenty of power and agility and sell for more than $10,000. “It goes well beyond cupholders,” notes a representative of the popular Cub Cadet brand.

And now Sears even has taken a page from the sales book of powersports dealers: it offers demo rides and special paint jobs.

It seems like there is more going on here than merely seeing homeowners buying a new lawn mower to replace the old one.

There are two interesting quotes in the story, one from an executive of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and another from a Michigan lawn and garden equipment dealer.

“To a large extent,” reports the Journal, “there is pent-up demand after a several-year dry spell where consumers belt-tightened and repaired old equipment. Now that they are ready to buy, they are often buying big— especially the pricier … riders…”

Does this sound like a familiar scenario, one that we’ve talked about in powersports for the last year or so? Pent-up demand? Weariness with fiscal responsibility and savings? Desire to spend money on a fun proposition? I think it does.

That position is supported by an OPEI executive: “Like people buying SUVs,” says Kris Kiser, “they may be buying more power than is technically necessary” but that will give them more comfort.

And from the Michigan dealer: “People are stressed out and wore out from working way too many hours,” he says.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any research that shows a correlation between sales of riding mowers and sales of powersports equipment. However, one leading analyst said sales of riders should be a positive indicator for ATVs/UTVs. We’ll see. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas at
jdelmont@dealernews.com or 612/845-8091.

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One Response to “Surging Mower Sales: Good News for Powersports?”

  1. Glenn Hansen Says:

    Joe, maybe after using that new mower for a few months to earn some money …

    Seriously, I would like to see some detailed demographics of the buyers of these riding mowers. While there are certainly motorcycle owners in the mix, I believe it’s a different buying decision, a different budgeting decision, that leads to the purchase of this equipment.

    I do believe it’s a good sign, just like the recent reports that import and export traffic is way up at the nation’s busiest ports (Los Angeles and Long Beach). This means, of course, that stores are feeling the need to replace or even increase inventory at retail, and in manufacturing.

    I’m not a fan of the phrase “green shoots” but if I were, I would use it here!

    Glenn

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