While the 2009-’10 snowmobile season got off to a great start with snow covering much of the Great Lakes states, it came to an abrupt halt in March when the snow didn’t show.
In Minnesota, a March without snow is like a baseball game without peanuts, and that’s exactly what happened this year. The last time Minnesota didn’t have snow in March was 1878, according to the University of Minnesota. While not to the extreme, other Great Lakes states had minimal snowfall in March as well.
The whacky weather along with a couple other factors put a big damper on snowmobile sales. Despite down unit sales, PG&A sales held its own.
In the United States this season, there were about 48,600 new snowmobile units sold, which is down from about 61,600 units last season, according to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), which is about a 27 percent decrease.
“Where we took our biggest losses was mostly in the Great Lakes states, which includes Michigan, Ohio, Indiana,” said Ed Klim, president of ISMA. “Those are the three states that had the biggest impact by the downsizing of the auto industry.”
Other states that weren’t as greatly affected by the down economy saw small increases in snowmobile sales, notes Klim.
“North Dakota and South Dakota’s economies are quite strong. They did pretty well,” he said. “Some of the other small volume western states actually grew as well.”
Unfortunately sales came to a screeching halt in March when snow stopped falling.
“We’ve had some years do really well in March,” said Klim. “That’s a good time to ride because the days are warmer, the days are longer, and people get out and ride.”
The weather not only had a negative effect on sales, it had an effect on how many miles snowmobilers covered.
“Because the season was shorter, the total number of miles ridden was a little more than 1,000,” noted Klim. “That’s down about 20 percent compared to last year. That’s what happens when you lose a month.”
A positive sign
It may not sound that great that PG&A sales were about flat this year, but that’s good considering snowmobile sales were down nearly 30 percent.
“That tells us people are still keeping their sleds, keeping them on snow,” said Klim. “The interest (in the recreation) is rail high. We just need to make sure people keep their jobs and a high level of confidence. That’s really what’s going on here.
“There’s a lot of reason for optimism because of PG&A sales and manufacturers’ new products,” commented Klim, “so I look optimistically and say ‘If the economy improves at all, and if we get reasonable snow, we’re going to have a good season next year.” psb
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