What began as a slow down in the market midway through 2018 has now turned into a widespread state of decline for Agricultural Machinery sales in Australia.
The Industry struggled to the 12,000 tractor level last year but early indications are for 2019 to be well down on this amount.
The very hot January has only caused to exacerbate the impact of the drought and we saw tractor sales down around 12% on the same month last year.
Sales of tractors are typically reported in four (4) categories under 40 hp, 40 hp to 100 hp, 100 hp to 200 hp and 200 hp and above.
The first 3 of these categories were all down 10% for the month and the 200 hp and above range was 22% down.
Around the nation the story is pretty grim. Sales in Victoria were in line with last year due mainly to the favourable conditions in the Western District which has experienced a bumper season. This has offset the difficulties being felt in the Wimmera and Gippsland districts.
NSW continues to be hard hit being 21% behind last year, Queensland began the year 10% down and Western Australia, the star of the show in 2018 had an off month, down 6.5%.
Elsewhere, South Australia was down 18%, Tasmania behind a whopping 40% behind whilst the NT posted sales ahead of last year.
Harvester Sales remain a problem for dealers, well down in 2018, early signs are for another year of declining sales. This ought to lead to reasonable parts and service sales maintaining older machines and a backlog of sales opportunities when conditions do improve, but this is cold comfort for now.
Baler sales had a great start in January with double the number sold last January and finally, sales of Out-Front and Mowers steadied somewhat, down 10%.
Notwithstanding the climatic conditions being experienced across the country, there are considerable headwinds expected which will have an impact on the profitability and, indeed the viability of some dealers.
2019 is a federal election year and, if history is any guide, this tends to cause buyers to hesitate when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
We are beginning to see price increases being applied to imported machines both as part of the normal pricing cycle but also due to the increasing cost of inputs such as steel resulting from the imposition of tariffs in the US.
On a positive note, planning is well underway for the annual TMA Conference. This year’s event will be held on Tuesday July 16th at Hyatt Place Melbourne at Essendon Fields and will present a focus on better understanding the customer of tomorrow. This event is a must for all manufacturers, dealers and suppliers to industry and promises to be a highlight of the year. Ticketing and Sponsorship details will be released soon and can be found on the TMA website www.tma.asn.au
Gary Northover, Executive Director, TMA