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issue: January 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Appliance Industry Association Forecasts - Outdoor Power Equipment Institute
Moderate Growth Expected in 2005

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by William G. Harley, president and CEO, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)

Strong retail sales and consumption spending in the past year indicate that consumers are actively participating in the marketplace. Moreover, considering energy prices and the soft labor market, this is encouraging and likely translates into moderate sustainable growth over the long run.

William Harley

Likewise, in the coming year, all signs point toward moderate growth in the outdoor power equipment industry. In fact, lawn and garden production indices show that production has been rocketing upward over the last year or so with the most recent 4 months being the four highest readings on record. Also, in 2004, consumer sales benefited from favorable weather in early spring in most areas of the U.S. Additionally, recent economic reports have indicated a strong residential housing market, both of new and existing homes, throughout the past 2 years. This has been fueled by low mortgage rates resulting in a high level of refinancing which, in turn, has put a significant amount of discretionary cash into consumers’ hands, some of which is being used to purchase outdoor power equipment. I expect this trend to continue through 2005 and that sales will be up.

The outdoor power equipment industry did well in Model Year 2004 (September 2003 to August 2004) in all product categories. Shipments were up, compared to 2003, for consumer lawn and garden powered equipment, commercial turf-care products, and hand-held products.

Among the best selling products in 2004 were commercial turf mowers with zero-turn radius technology, which boosted the overall sales of riding mowers. Sales of consumer riding mowers were also exuberant. In the hand-held category, leaf blowers and chain saws were at the top.

Some OPEI members forecast that in 2005, sales will be up by approximately 5 percent. Contributing to this is a buoyant snow thrower market and a very positive growth rate for zero-turn products. A sampling of members also predict that among the best-selling products for 2005 will be chain saws, snow throwers, zero-turn mowers, and walk-behind mowers.

The key issues in the year ahead will be emissions, energy costs, inflation, industry consolidation, steel and other commodity prices, and the state of the global economy.

OPEI is looking forward to another excellent year in 2005. Here are some of the highlights: OPEI will be working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toward the development of a positive national emissions regulation; we will expand our marketing statistics program to include utility vehicle shipment reports; OPEI’s standards development committees will continue the work of developing and revising standards; and EXPO will begin a permanent schedule of October dates, which is the most favorable time of year for both exhibitors and attendees.

We will also reach out to consumers through expanded education programs specifically focused on riding mower safety and children; we will promote the many benefits and uses of leaf blowers; and we will redesign the OPEI Web site for an entirely new, updated look and easier navigation throughout the site. OPEI’s overseas efforts will increase as well: our International Committee will continue cooperative efforts with the European Union on harmonization of standards, the EU noise directive, and U.S. trade negotiations.


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