Harley-Davidson dealers contacted by Longbow Research had a March year-over-year sales increase of 19 percent, which puts average Q1 growth at 17 percent, the best quarter of growth among contacts in the nine years of the Longbow dealer survey.
The research note, provided to Powersports Business by Longbow Research analyst Phil Anderson, shows 15 percent growth by Harley dealers in January and February. "The March selling season represents about 11 percent of industry sales on average over the past seven years," Anderson reports. "As such, we are increasing our 1Q domestic retail growth assumption from 6 percent to 17 percent.
"We do believe that some of this strength comes at the expense of 2Q results, however, in that unusually nice weather likely pulled demand forward from 2Q and HOG is likely capacity-constrained this year due to restructuring at the York plant, highlighted by the 2Q SAP implementation."
Feedback from the 30 dealers surveyed shows optimism for growth potential in 2012.
"In fact, while it is difficult if not impossible to tease-out the weather boost from the economic boost to numbers, many dealers have commented that momentum began to pick up even in December and January, long before the weather was conducive for riding, and that even on days/weeks with poor weather, they have seen a material increase in both traffic and sales," Anderson said.