The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI)
Econometric Forecast for U.S. consumer equipment and certain commercial turf products, revised in June 2003, indicated that the U.S. economy expanded by 1.2 percent (as measured by Gross Domestic Product) during the first quarter of 2003. This modest growth has some implications for industry shipments during Model Year 2003. 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.
Model Year 2002, ended August 2002, showed some positive, but mostly mixed, results. Consumer walk behind mowers grew by 3.6 percent over 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. OPEI says that the overall picture for the balance of Model Year 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 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 is forecast for all riding units for MY 2003 followed by a 2.5-percent increase in 2004. Rear engine riding mowers showed phenomenal growth in the first half of 2003 and a 25.5-percent rise in shipments is
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 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 percent, but will rise by 1.4 percent in model year 2004, at the same level as 2 years ago. Walk behind rotary tillers are forecast to rise by 4.1 percent in 2003 with a further 2.3-percent increase expected in 2004. OPEI says that the good news in the commercial turf segment is with commercial turf riding mowers: a 15.2-percent rise is expected for 2003 and another 7.9-percent increase is
forecast for 2004. On the other hand, says OPEI, commercial turf intermediate walkers are forecast to drop by 15.7 percent in 2003 with a small turnaround of 4.0 percent expected for 2004.
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