Oz tractor sales surpass $1 billion mark

By: Gary Northover

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The financial year just ended has seen another record for tractor sales, with sales just shy of the 13,000-unit mark, despite a noticeable drop off in June as dealers slowed up deliveries

Photo: Geography Photos/Contributor/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

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Tractor sales in Australia have now surpassed the $1 billion mark for each of the past 10 years. Overall tractor sales now sit 4 per cent ahead on a year-to-date basis.

While we continue to associate tractor sales with agricultural use, the influence of the lifestyle or hobby farmer has been significant in delivering an almost new category of customer to the market.

This segment has a very healthy appetite for new tractors and now accounts for around one third of the total industry by number.

In addition to this influential segment, the size of tractors purchased, based on horsepower, has been steadily increasing. In 2013 the average tractor size was 32hp and it is now 36hp.

The good news for buyers though is that while size has been increasing, prices have in fact been declining due to improved manufacturing techniques and the very low interest rate environment.

Around the country we have seen a mixed bag, due in no small part to the drought conditions being felt along the eastern states.

Sales in Victoria were 2 per cent down on last year with June numbers behind 11 per cent.

It was a similar tale in NSW and Queensland, both in line with last year but down around 20 per cent on the same month.

WA continues to be a bright spot, where rains have fallen exactly where and when they were required, up 9 per cent on last year following a strong June.

SA was again strong, up 12 per cent for the year, and Tasmania has had a great year, 20 per cent up on last year.

All four reported size categories delivered a negative result in June; the under-40hp segment finished 4 per cent behind for the year after a very quiet June.

Sales in the mid categories – 40-100hp (up 2 per cent) and 100-200hp (up 1 per cent) – had healthy years, while the over-200hp group was down around 9 per cent this year after a very strong 2016/17.

Combine harvester sales are still in the ‘dormant’ phase with planned deliveries not likely to occur for another few months. That said, expectations are for a much lower year as the impact of the drought takes hold. On a year-to-date basis, sales are presently tracking last year’s levels with 108 units sold since January.

Baler sales are also sitting in line with last year, at around 100 units since January. And, finally, sales of out-front mowers have turned down – around 10 per cent below last year.

All in all, we are beginning to see real signs of, if not a slowdown, then certainly a pause in activity particularly as a result of dry conditions. The coming months will certainly tell a tale in this regard.

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