NEW-UNIT RETAIL sales plummeted in the first quarter of 2009 when compared to the same period last year. Dealers retailed 32 percent fewer motorcycles, ATVs and scooters made by the 19 manufacturers that report numbers to the Motorcycle Industry Council.
The MIC also announced today a 35 percent decline in new-unit sales for March (see table below for a full rundown). This indicates that year over year, performance in March couldn’t keep pace with that of January and February combined.
On a slightly optimistic note, the first-quarter drop wasn’t as bad as the one experienced during the last quarter of 2008, when the market contracted 36 percent on a year-over-year basis.
But there still seems to be fewer bright spots this year. During the quarter even scooter and dual-sport sales fell 37 percent and 24 percent, respectively. A gallon of gas retails for about $1.45 less than it did one year ago, according to averages published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
How significant is the first quarter? More than you might think. In 2008, new-unit retail sales during that period made up 22 percent of the year’s total. The first quarter was responsible for 25 percent of ATV sales and 19 percent of streetbike sales (not including dual-sports or scooters).
Last year was the second year in a row that the MIC reported a double-digit decline for overall sales. In 2008, new-unit sales fell 16 percent after falling 10 percent in 2007. The decline was just 1 percent in 2006.
The MIC posts numbers on a quarterly basis. The data applies only to 19 reporting manufacturers: Aprilia, Arctic Cat, BMW, Buell, Can-Am, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husaberg, Kawasaki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio, Polaris, Suzuki, Triumph, Vespa, Victory and Yamaha.
ATV sales do not include side-by-sides.