Dealers complain of shortages amid H-D production cuts

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Harley-Davidson dealers are starting to complain of shortages of some models as the company’s strategy to restore brand value with scarcity takes effect.

By a 4-to-1 ratio, Harley dealerships griped that inventories of new bikes were too low, according to a recent survey by Robert W. Baird & Co., sampling 72 dealers cited in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

"Personally, I would like to have a few more bikes on the ground because we still get people who come in and want a certain model and color that day," Todd Berlin, sales manager at Suburban Motors in Thiensville, told the newspaper. "You have to go on the hunt for some bikes now, and that's not easy.”

Even trades with other dealers aren’t solving all the problems.

"Now it's hard to get some bikes because nobody has a huge amount of inventory," Berlin says.

The Baird survey found that Harley dealers, on average, had 41 new motorcycles in stock in October and November - down from 67 a year ago and 78 in October and November of 2006. Higher-end models are most difficult to get, the survey says.

"I think the balance is coming, and it's a good trend," says Baird senior analyst Craig Kennison. "Still, too many dealers are discounting for our taste. We aren't seeing prices rise quite as much as we thought. Dealers are still willing to discount, which is a surprise given the lack of inventory."

Posted by Holly Wagner