The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute's (OPEI) Econometric Forecast for U.S. consumer equipment and certain commercial turf products indicated that model year 2002 showed some positive, but mostly mixed, results. Shipments of consumer walk-behind mowers grew 3.6 percent compared to the 2001 model year; all consumer riding units posted a 4.3-percent 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 Alexandria, VA, U.S.-based trade association said that the overall picture for the balance of model year 2003 was clouded by increased unemployment, international trade issues, sluggish retail numbers, and unusually wet weather. However, a recovery is forecast for model year 2004, which began in September. OPEI forecasts that shipments of walk-behind mowers will slide 2.4 percent for the 2003 model year, which will be partially made up with a 2.0-percent rise in 2004.
A modest increase of 2.3 percent was forecast for all riding units for model year 2003, followed by a 2.5-percent increase in 2004. Rear-engine riding mowers showed phenomenal growth in the first half of 2003, OPEI says, and a 25.5-percent rise in shipments was forecast for the year. However, this category is expected to fall by 6.4 percent in 2004. Front-engine lawn tractors have, so far, posted a modest increase of 0.9 percent in 2003 and are predicted to soar in 2004 - approximately 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 percent, OPEI says, but will rise by 1.4 percent in model year 2004, the same level as 2 years ago.
Shipments of walk-behind rotary tillers were forecast to rise by 4.1 percent in 2003 with an additional 2.3-percent increase expected in 2004.
According to OPEI, the good news in the commercial turf segment is with commercial turf riding mowers: a 15.2-percent rise was expected for 2003 and another 7.9-percent increase is forecast for 2004. Commercial turf intermediate walkers were forecast to drop by 15.7 percent in 2003, with a small turnaround of 4.0 percent expected for 2004.
Following are some of the products by lawn and garden appliance makers who exhibited at the Expo, Oct. 18-20, 2003 in Lexington, KY, U.S. The 2004 Expo will be held Sept. 24-26 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Lexington.