OPEI forecasts moderate growth for model year 2003

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) Econometric Forecast for consumer equipment and certain commercial turf products revised in October 2002, indicates that there is positive economic news for the industry in spite of recent negative stories found in the business press. In fact, while some negatives and risks may slow economic growth, offsetting positives will provide a boost to the economy over the next 18 months.

The report that follows focuses on non-handheld products. However, in the interest of serving all elements of the industry, the association has established a task group of members to begin developing an econometric forecasting model for the handheld segment of the industry.

For all riding units (rear engine, front engine and garden tractors) Model Year 2002 started slow but ended on a high note with a 4.5% increase over MY 2001. And shipments of walk behind rotary mowers ended MY 2002 with a 3.9% increase. This growth was due largely to a strong spring from March through May. Commercial riders rose 2.1% for MY 2002. However, commercial intermediate walk behinds tumbled by 12.9% in MY 2002.

The picture for MY 2003 is for positive but measured improvements. OPEI is forecasting shipments growth in all categories for MY 2003: a 3.1% increase in all consumer riding units; 2.1% increase for walk behind rotary mowers; a 10.9% increase for walk behind rotary tillers; a 2.6% increase for commercial walk behinds; and a 4.3% increase for commercial turf riders.

Good economic news for the ope industry this year has resulted from the President’s tax cut, federal outlays for homeland security and defense, and the lowest mortgage rates in 30 years. And although high profile bad news has occurred such as corporate corruption, bankruptcies and concerns over a possible war with Iraq, another economic contraction producing a “double dip” recession is not anticipated.

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