By Steve Noe
Here’s hoping that April showers bring much more than May flowers.
Shipments for commercial turf and consumer wheeled and handheld products are expected to remain soft through most of 2008, according to the January 2008 forecast that was released by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) on Feb. 8. This forecast is based on a combination of OPEI’s econometric model of the industry and the University of Michigan’s economic outlook for the United States.
The forecast is a result of continued concerns about the U.S. economy, specifically the housing market, and past drought conditions. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, sales of new family homes fell 4.7 percent in December 2007, which is about 40 percent lower than the same point in 2006. In addition, economic experts are split 50-50 on the potential of a recession.
The good news is that the anticipated stimulus package and further movement by the Federal Reserve may serve to strengthen the U.S. economy and alter the current forecast. The OPE industry has also been bolstered by the heavy snow in many parts of the United States, which is forecast to help alleviate drought conditions in some places. A warm spring with adequate rain, especially in the drought-stricken Southeast, would result in an increase in shipments of outdoor power equipment.
Commercial turf and consumer wheeled products
For Model Year (MY) 2008 (September 2007-August 2008), shipments of nearly all commercial turf and consumer wheeled products are expected to decline except shipments of commercial riding mowers, which are estimated to remain flat. Consumer zero-turn rider shipments are forecast to recover with an estimated 3.5-percent increase during MY 2009.
During Calendar Year (CY) 2008 (January-December 2008), shipments of handheld blowers and chain saws will continue to decrease, but at a smaller rate than CY 2007. Shipments of backpack blowers and trimmers are also predicted to decrease during CY 2008, but the decrease will be less than CY 2006.
OPE Editor Steve Noe