According to the results of Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s annual dealer survey, the crack in rural lifestyle dealer optimism that emerged last year has widened a bit more. Just 27% of dealers anticipate wholegoods sales growth in 2023, compared to 33% and 56% in each of the 2 previous years. At the same time, 58% of dealers are anticipating a down year in 2023, compared to just 32% a year ago.
Most of the anticipated losses are expected to be in the wholegoods area. Roughly 59% of dealers are anticipating negative growth in wholegoods sales while just 22% expect growth. A myriad of factors are contributing to this weaker forecast, from equipment shortages and increased prices to the impact of rising interest rates on consumers.
One dealer said, “We are cautioning our sales team to not over order because things are slowing down. We are reminding our team that the past couple of years have been historic, not realistic.”
To some dealers, 2023 will be “business as usual,” as one dealer put it. “Then it’s up to the manufacturers to step up and deliver,” the dealer added.
For other dealers, 2023 will be business as usual, albeit with a few minor tweaks. “We are pedal to the floor on ordering products with a 12-month or longer floorplan,” one dealer said.
“We are cautiously optimistic,” another dealer said. “Preselling is our new normal. Our customers need to plan ahead, as opposed to impulse buying.”
Another dealer said they are carefully watching for any signals that the current supply shortage may begin turning into a supply flood. “We are ready at a moment’s notice to begin cancelling orders above a level we feel comfortable with,” the dealer said.
While there appears to be varying degrees of caution on the wholegoods side, parts and service is another story. Like during most economic downturns, dealers are anticipating parts and service business to remain strong in 2023. Inflation, high interest rates and weakened GDP don’t stop grass from growing, trees from dying, animals from eating or other chores from needing to get done. If rural lifestylers and landscapers aren’t buying new equipment, they’re spending more money on fixing the equipment they already have.
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