The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) Forecasts Some Shipment Growth for Model Year 2003

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) Econometric Forecast for consumer equipment and certain commercial turf products, revised in June 2003, indicated that the economy expanded by 1.2% (as measured by Gross Domestic Product) during the first quarter of 2003. This modest growth has some implications for industry shipments during Model Year (MY) 2003.

The report that follows focuses on non-handheld products. A forecasting model for handheld products is being developed by OPEI and the Institute expects to start publishing a forecast by the end of this year.

MY 2002, which ended August 2002, showed some positive, but mostly mixed, results. Consumer walk-behind mowers grew by 3.6% over the 2001 model year; all consumer riding units posted a 4.3% increase with all gains in the front-engine lawn tractor segment; and rear-engine riders and riding garden tractors declined during the 2002 model year.

The overall picture for the balance of MY 2003 is clouded by increased unemployment, international trade issues, sluggish retail numbers and unusually wet weather. However, a recovery is forecast for model year 2004, which begins this September. OPEI forecasts that shipments of walk-behind mowers will slide 2.4% for the 2003 MY, which will be partially made up with a 2.0% rise in 2004.

A modest increase of 2.3% is forecast for all riding units for MY 2003, followed by a 2.5% increase in 2004. Rear engine riding mowers showed phenomenal growth in the first half of 2003 and a 25.5% rise in shipments is forecast for the year. However, this category is expected to fall by 6.4% in 2004. Front-engine lawn tractors have, so far, posted a modest increase of 0.9% in 2003 and they are predicted to soar in 2004: 1,402,185 units will be shipped, which is the highest number in the past 12 years. Riding garden tractors contracted slightly in 2003 by 1.1%, but will rise by 1.4% in MY 2004, at the same level as two years ago.

Walk-behind rotary tillers are forecast to rise by 4.1% in 2003, with a further 2.3% increase expected in 2004.

The good news in the commercial turf segment is with commercial turf riding mowers: a 15.2% rise is expected for 2003 and another 7.9% increase is forecast for 2004. On the other hand, commercial turf intermediate walkers are forecast to drop by 15.7% in 2003 with a small turnaround of 4.0% expected for 2004.

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