issue: January 2007 APPLIANCE Magazine
Outdoor Power Equipment Institute
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by William Harley, president and CEO, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)
The two words that describe the outdoor power equipment (OPE) industry are “cautious optimism.”
Of the two major factors that forecast shipments of outdoor power equipment, one (housing sales and starts) is declining and the other (weather) is unpredictable. Still yards, parks, golf courses, and the like need to be maintained and this generally means the use of outdoor power equipment. Recent indications from the Department of Commerce show positive economic growth, lower energy costs, solid job growth, and wage increases. This news, along with the absence of any major weather events (e.g., drought, flood or hurricane) means shipments of outdoor power equipment could very well beat the estimated forecasts. In fact, we have already seen a positive change in the forecasts for shipments in many products over just the last few months.
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) produces forecast estimates on product shipments from our member companies four times per year. Factors that impact the forecasts include “real-time” data on shipments from OPEI members and various economic indicators. A statistical model prepared by the University of Michigan links the industry data with the national economy.
Forecast Estimates for Hand-Held Products
The hand-held product group (consisting of hand-held and backpack leaf
blowers, trimmers and chainsaws) is forecast, for the large part, to
hold its own—although 2007 may prove to be a little unsteady. Reported
shipments of products in the hand-held category account for
approximately 96 percent of the market share. Forecasts of shipments of
hand-held products are on a calendar year basis.
The end-of-year 2006 forecast estimates that the shipments of hand-held
blowers will decrease by 1.9 percent, backpack blowers will increase by
2.7 percent, trimmers will decrease by 11.0 percent, and chain saws
will decrease by 2.3 percent. For hand-held and backpack blowers, this
follows a record year for shipments for both products. At the end of
calendar year 2005, shipments of backpack leaf blowers increased 23.9
percent while shipments of hand-held leaf blowers increased 10.3
It is estimated that 2007 shipments will continue to decrease for
hand-held blowers (2.7 percent), backpack blowers (6.9 percent) and
chainsaws (4.1 percent). However, the current (September 2006) forecast
for trimmers is estimated to increase by 1.2 percent although the
previous (June 2006) forecast showed that trimmer shipments would
decrease by 1.4 percent.
Backpack and hand-held leaf blowers are forecast to rebound in 2008 by
7.5 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively, while the shipments of
chainsaws and trimmers are forecast to decrease in 2008 (by 4.0 percent
and 1.8 percent, respectively).
Forecast Estimates for Consumer Turf Products
Consumer and commercial turf product shipment forecast estimates are
based on a model year of September through August. The shipments
included in consumer turf represent 98 percent of the total market
share and commercial turf product shipments account for approximately
90 percent of the total market share.
Shipments of walk-behind mowers dropped 6.1 percent in model year (MY)
2006 (September–August). The decrease in shipments is forecast to
continue through MY 2007 when estimated shipments are expected to be
2.4 percent lower. A rebound is forecast for MY 2008, when shipments
will increase by 2.8 percent.
Shipments of consumer riding mowers are forecast to follow a similar
pattern. In MY 2006, shipments of consumer riding mowers decreased 8.6
percent and this downward trend is expected to continue in MY 2007,
when shipments are forecast to decrease 3.4 percent. However, in MY
2008, shipments of consumer riding mowers will make up for MY 2007 and
a little more, when shipments are estimated to increase by 3.9 percent.
Forecast Estimates for Commercial Turf Products
The commercial turf products are made up of intermediate walkers and
riding mowers. In MY 2006, shipments of commercial intermediate walkers
decreased 16.2 percent while shipments for riding mowers increased by
1.0 percent. Over the last few months, the forecast for MY 2007 and MY
2008 for intermediate walkers has improved, due to a more positive
outlook on the U.S. economy. The forecast for intermediate walkers in
MY 2007 still is expected to show a decrease in shipments of 6.2
percent but this is significantly less than the forecast in June, which
reflected a decrease in shipments of 13.3 percent. In MY 2008,
shipments of these products will increase by 2.6 percent, although the
forecast from a few months ago showed an estimated decrease of 6.1
Shipments of commercial riding mowers increased by 1.0 percent in MY
2006. Forecast estimates for MY 2007 and MY 2008 indicate that
shipments will decrease by 3.5 percent in MY 2007 but shipments are
expected to rebound in MY 2008 by 4.8 percent.
Overview of OPE Industry
The OPE industry manufacturers about U.S. $9 billion of product
annually and employs approximately 30,000 workers. In 2004 and 2005,
the industry had an approximate trade surplus of $1 billion. This
surplus is a result of exports increasing at a faster rate than
imports. In 2005, the industry exported approximately $1.3 billion in
products while imports were valued at $701 million. Since 1996, the OPE
industry has generated a cumulative surplus of over $4.5 billion. The
largest markets for U.S.-manufactured OPE are Canada, followed by
France and then Australia. Mexico was the largest supplier to the OPE
industry while Canada and China followed in second and third positions.
OPEI is the international trade association that represents
manufacturers of outdoor power equipment, component and attachment
suppliers, as well as allied services. Founded in 1952, OPEI is
committed to advancing the OPE industry in the areas of public safety,
environmental responsibility, business development, and advocacy.
OPEI’s Web site, www.opei.org contains valuable resources on the OPE