U.S. regular gasoline prices increased more than 60 cents from the week of Jan. 2 to the week of April 16, causing some to get excited about a possible uptick in scooter sales, while others are worried pain at the pump will cut into customers’ disposable income. Here’s what some dealers who participated in the Q1 Powersports Business/RBC Capital Markets dealer survey had to say about rising gas prices:
• “That’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt sales yet,” said Eugene Teigland of Bemidji Sports Centre in Bemidji, Minn. “[Customers] don’t have any extra money for payments or anything.”
• “I think it’s similar to the fishing industry; I think people will just stay home more and ride locally,” said Mark Porter of Porter’s Toys for Big Boys in Brookings, S.D.
• “I think they could [affect sales] in somewhat of a negative way. I think if they stay in this range, we will be alright,” explained Mark McGrath of McGrath Powersports in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “I think when people feel gas poor, they don’t want to spend money on a sport or a toy. I don’t know if the savings that a motorcycle or scooter brings can fairly represent what they’re feeling, that they’re being squeezed for gas.”
• “I think that we’ve gotten complacent with $4 per gallon gas. We might need to hit $5 for things to change,” said Raymond Walters of Got Gear Motorsports in Ridgeland, Miss.
Side-by-side sales continue to be hot. More than half — 56 percent — of side-by-side dealers said their side-by-side unit sales were up 5 percent or more in the first quarter, according to a survey by Powersports Business and RBC Capital Markets. Here’s what some dealers had to say about their side-by-side sales:
• “Rangers, the side-by-sides, they can’t get enough of them. We’re out of stock every week,” said Mark Porter of Porter’s Toys for Big Boys in Brookings, S.D. He explained his customers like the vehicles for their versatility. “Mom and dad can both ride it and drive it, and a lot of the farmers are liking them because you can throw stuff in the back, whereas with an ATV, you can’t.”
• Craig Stokebrand of Kearney Yamaha in Kearney, Neb., said his mostly agricultural customer base uses side-by-sides to haul equipment and people around farms. “The Polaris Ranger has been the biggest one of all of them for us,” he reported.
• “Without Polaris and the side-by-sides, I don’t know what we’d do,” said Joe McKnight of Action Motor Sports in Idaho Falls, Idaho. “Side-by-sides, you’re getting a little bit different demographic. You’re getting old people, which is cool, and people we have never had in the store before.”