Smaller decline in consumer shipments forecast for 2002

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) Economic Forecast for consumer and commercial turf products, revised in April 2002, predicts another year of declining consumer industry shipments, but a much less severe contraction than during the 2001 model year (September 2000 through August 2001). While the U.S. recession of 2001 was short and mild overall, consumer outdoor power equipment manufacturers experienced a downturn in business that lasted the entire 2001 model year, and resulted in shipment declines of 9.3 percent for consumer walk behinds and 10.6 percent for consumer riding units (rear engine, front engine and garden tractors).

For May 2002, shipments of walk behind rotary mowers were forecasted to fall 4.1 percent; and all riding units were predicted to drop 4 percent. Neither of these declines will be as severe as May 2001. Signs for an industry recovery are expected in the late summer and early fall of 2002 which will lead the way to positive growth for consumer walk-behinds and riders during the 2003 model year.

The commercial turf segment of the industry has fared better and will continue to fare better than the consumer segment. This is evidenced by flat shipments for May 2002 and some increasing strength during May 2003. For 2003, the forecast calls for a 3.1 percent increase in commercial intermediate walkers and a 5.3 percent improvement for commercial riding mowers.

For more information call (703) 549-7604.

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