Tractor sales on track for strong finish

By: Gary Northover

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The magical 12,000 tractor sales figure was firmly in everyone’s mind as we started 2017, reflecting what had been an outstanding 2016

November sales of under-40hp tractors were up 22 per cent on the previous month
November sales of under-40hp tractors were up 22 per cent on the previous month

Following what can only be described as a bumper month for smaller tractors, that number has now been surpassed and 2017 looks set to be another record year.

Overall, tractor sales were up 7.4 per cent in terms of unit numbers (4.1 per cent in dollar terms) and are now 8 per cent up on the same time last year in both unit and dollar terms.

November sales of under-40hp tractors were up 22 per cent on the previous month and 9 per cent up on last year, and the 40-100hp range was up 7.6 per cent on October and 6  per cent year to date. Seasonal factors are considered to be behind this lift in smaller tractor sales to address the grass growing that occurs across the nation.

Sales of larger tractors were down slightly, with the 100-200hp range in line with October and still 10 per cent up on the year to date. The 200hp and above range was down 6 per cent month-on-month although we expect a rush of larger deliveries in December to bring these ranges along further.

Regionally, Queensland stood out in November with sales 26 per cent up on October and 11 per cent up on last year, this despite it being an election month for the Sunshine State!

New South Wales and Victoria were both up 3 per cent on October and WA reported a 10 per cent decline.

Elsewhere, South Australia reported a major turnaround, up 30 per cent on October (and up 7 per cent year-to-date), and Tasmania was down but still up 22 per cent on last year.

Combine harvester sales were down a little in November but are slightly up on last year, despite many of the widely reported challenges associated with this year’s harvest.

Harvester sales are strongly impacted by a number of factors but what is becoming more apparent each year is the influence of the fleet management approach being taken by farmers. Because finance has consistently been at the currently attractive levels, purchasers have been able to exercise planned replacement of assets with a longer-term view being taken. This has contributed greatly to the sales figures being at or about their last 5 year average.

Baler sales have remained slow due mainly to the abundance of sales made in 2016. Most will recall the sight of numerous hay bales in paddocks across the country in 2016 and this supply of hay has yet to be depleted, all of which has resulted in a quieter year for balers, down 17 per cent on the same time last year.

Finally, as a result of another strong grass growing season, sales of out-front mowers have ‘bounced’ and remain in line with last year’s numbers.

We will indeed view 2017 as another very strong year for tractor sales in Australia and we would like to take this opportunity to wish all a safe and merry Christmas on behalf of the TMA.

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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