Oz tractor sales continue to power ahead

By: Gary Northover

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Tractor sales continue to power ahead in February, especially in the 40-100hp and 100-200hp categories

Overall sales were up a further 4 per cent on the same time last year   Photo: AleksandarGeorgiev/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Overall sales were up a further 4 per cent on the same time last year Photo: AleksandarGeorgiev/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Sales of agricultural tractors were once again very strong in February, maintaining the steady growth that has been occurring for the past two years or more. Overall sales were up a further 4 per cent on the same time last year and sit 7 per cent ahead on a rolling 12-months basis.

It was the 100-200hp range that was strongest this month, up 28 per cent on the same month last year and now 23 per cent ahead on a year-to-date basis.

The 40-100hp range was again up a healthy 6 per cent, to be 5 per cent ahead on last year.

The large over-200hp range reversed last month’s strong sales to be significantly down by 20 per cent on last February and 5 per cent behind on a year-to-date basis. We expect this category to even out in the coming months and try not to read too much into one month’s results.

The smaller under-40hp ‘leisure’ category was down again this month by a further 5 per cent, leaving this category 7 per cent below last year. We suspect that the variable weather conditions being felt across Australia will be impacting this category and we further suspect that, because much of the leisure market is privately funded, a period of stock market/interest rate uncertainty may also have a dampening effect on demand.

Across the states, activity was quite strong in all regions with the exception of WA. Queensland and New South Wales were both up 2 per cent despite drought conditions taking hold in February. Queensland now sits 4 per cent ahead of last year, while NSW is 7 per cent up.

The southern states of Victoria and Tasmania both had strong months, with the former up 12 per cent for the month, and now 6 per cent ahead of last year, and Tasmania up a whopping 48 per cent for the month.

As stated, WA was off this month, behind around 7 per cent, while South Australia and the Northern Territory were both steady.

Not surprisingly, sales of harvesters were quiet with a small number of baler sales also reported. Following a record 2017, expectations are somewhat muted for harvester sales this year. Some dealers are reporting a quieter order period over the new year and indications are that the time for a pause in new purchases might be expected.

The sale of out-front mowers were again strong and are now up 4 per cent on the same time last year due to the large amount of grass around.

Looking ahead, expectations are once again high for another strong year in the agricultural equipment market, although not without its challenges.

As reported last month, manufacturers and importers are beginning to see a return to strong demand in the US and Europe for agricultural product. After many years in the doldrums, this lift in confidence is reportedly having an impact on the supply chain with manufacturers reporting delays in the supply of such things as steel, rubber and bearings. This will ultimately impact supply to the Australian market, inevitably pushing out lead times, so clever forecasting and smart application of used equipment could be the order of the day.

Gary Northover is executive director of the Tractor & Machinery Association of Australia (TMA). He can be contacted on (03) 9867 4289 or gary@tma.asn.au 

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