March Wholesale Pricing in Review

March yielded a surprising mix in Average Wholesale Pricing (AWP) trends, which seems to suggest that typical seasonal peak may be muted or delayed in some categories.

PM_Market-Report-2March yielded a surprising mix in Average Wholesale Pricing (AWP) trends, which seems to suggest that typical seasonal peak may be muted or delayed in some categories. When compared to the prior three months, all major categories trended up except for domestic cruisers, which declined one percent in AWP.

Despite their rise in price over the prior three-month average, metric cruisers were roughly flat in March. This is interesting because a) March usually shows almost-universal price improvements as the spring peak builds, and b) dealer feedback and sentiment at auction is that prices were strong and the pre-owned retail market is healthy.

Digging further, a primary reason for AWP being flat in metric cruisers is that the average age for sold units is a year or more older than the prior year, meaning the AWP impact may be mostly due to an older product mix. In contrast, further analysis of domestic cruisers didn’t reveal any correlation between price and age, condition, or other common factors.

This suggests that the one-month decline is related to a shift in buyer demand rather than being driven by product mix. We believe that domestic cruiser dealers are shifting their inventory preference to lower price units to satisfy retail demand at that level, softening higher-end price points and dragging AWP down.

The average wholesale price to clean NADA book ratio shows more normal behavior in March, aided by a two percent value reduction in the latest book update. Overall, the wholesale price to book ratio is trending lower than last year, implying sellers will need to maintain realistic expectations for target prices. The mix of domestic cruisers and other street bikes sold remained roughly constant in March while the mix of ATVs declined.

Bidder participation and conversion rates improved in March and interest in the preowned market is strong, especially at reduced price points. Dealers report that they are selling more pre-owned units than expected, so units scheduled for auction are now being retailed more frequently, which is a good thing for our industry! We expect AWP will continue to rise through the spring as strong, used retail demand turns more dealers into buyers and weather improves throughout the country.

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