As much as we try to fight it, summer has officially ended, and winter is nearly upon us. In the midst of stocking up on candy for trick-or-treaters, consider stocking your showroom for the winter so your customers can be prepared for what is predicted to be a positive 2020 season.
According to reports from the International Snowmobile Manufacturer’s Association (ISMA), the long-lasting cold and snowy weather of the 2019 season helped boost enthusiasm and interest in snowmobiling.
Snowmobile sales increased worldwide to 133,081 new sleds sold this past year — an increase of over 8,275 units, which is a 7% gain from last year. Sales in the United States grew to 55,025 new snowmobiles sold — a 3.7% gain from last year, according to ISMA. According to recent reports, the snowmobile industry in North America has 1.85 million registered snowmobiles.
Trends show the snow season, based on above-average, late snowfall throughout most of North America, is still expected, even though studies identify consecutive low snow years may become six times more common across the western U.S. over the latter half of this century, according to the American Geophysical Union.
“Across the West, we’re generally losing a lot of our snowpack — in many places, low snow conditions will be increasingly consistent from year to year,” said Adrienne Marshall, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources and lead author of the new study in AGU’s journal Geophysical Research Letters. “Every time we have a snow drought, we’re delving into our water resources and the ecosystem’s resources. We’re drawing down on our savings without restocking the bank.”
Despite potential snow droughts, the forecast looks positive for early snowfall.
“After reviewing the Farmer’s Almanac in some upcoming reports, we’re very optimistic,” said Edward Klim, president of ISMA. “It looks like it’s going to be a good snow cover this winter and it might even be early, which would drive more people to be in the mood to snowmobile.”
The 2019 manufacturers’ spring snowmobile shows reported increases in attendance. In many of the spring shows, attendance was up over 20%. Spring orders were strong, which point to a good 2020 sales year.
“When people see snow, especially early in the season, they head out to dealerships and that makes the dealerships excited because they’ll be selling more products,” Klim added.
The ISMA also reported that snowmobile-related tourism increased in North America as well. Miles ridden by snowmobilers showed an increase of over 15% this past season versus 2018. This is a result of riding conditions, improved and expanded riding areas and trail systems.
Research notes the average age of a snowmobiler this past season was 45 years old. Surveys conducted by ISMA have shown that 75% of first-time buyers in the snowmobile market purchased a used snowmobile. Many of them are young adults and they will move on to purchase a new snowmobile later in life.
ISMA’s Go Snowmobiling website serves as another strong indicator for the increased interest in snowmobiling. This year, the site received more than 2.34 million hits. Forty percent of those visitors to the website were new snowmobilers or individuals who do not own a snowmobile but are expressing interest in owning a snowmobile and going snowmobiling.
With strong activity in online data, Klim explained that dealers can take steps to bring those online customers through the doors of their dealerships by hosting events and partnering with local clubs.
“I encourage all dealers to interact and support their local snowmobile clubs,” Klim said. “Clubs have a record number of folks who are very active, even in the summer, and it’s a real grassroots effort. Dealers and clubs should work hand-in-hand; host a table at a dealership, sponsor events with the club, create synergy. We always hope for good weather, but when there’s a lot of excitement around new products and supporting each other in the industry, it’s very important for our overall success.”