The numbers pretty much confirm what our gut was telling us-snowmobile sales for the 2009 model year took a dive.
It wasn't an off-the-cliff dive, but the edge wasn't too far away.
After leveling off a year ago, snowmobile sales in the United States tripped for the 2009 model year, dropping 22.57 percent. Sales of sleds in the western United States pretty much mirrored the national picture, slipping 23.62 percent. We haven't seen that kind of number in all the years SnoWest Magazine has been tracking snowmobile sales in the West.
There's plenty of blame to go around for those kinds of figures, including the recession, uncertainty about the economy and jobs, land use issues, you name it. It didn't help, we don't think, that the snows came late last season, which didn't exactly excite the sledding community, many of whom like to see the white stuff falling and on the ground before plunking down several thousand dollars for a snowmobile.
Are there any silver linings in this gloomy picture? Well, yes.
First, sled sales in the West don't take into account the sales of mountain sleds in other parts of the country. We are only able to track the sled sales by region, not by model. For example, there are sledders in the eastern United States who buy Summits, M Series and RMKs for off-trail riding. There are also a few Midwesterners who buy mountain sleds and then trailer out to the West to ride every winter. In both those cases, the sleds sold aren't reflected in the western numbers. That's not a big deal, but it does affect the mountain sled numbers.
Second, even though the West suffered a double digit drop, sled sales in our region of the United States rang up $173,830,111 in sales. That's a fair chunk of change and we figure that's a conservative number. The International Snowmobile Manufacturer's Association estimates that the average cost of a snowmobile sold in the 2009 selling season was $8,827, which is near the bottom of the price scale when talking a mountain sled so likely the number would be higher, maybe as much as $1.2 million more. That's just a rough estimate.
Third, north of the border the picture is a little rosier. Snowmobile sales in Canada seem to be fairly steady, including in western Canada, where, although sales dipped last year, it was 10 percent better than in the western United States.
Fourth, snowmobile sales in the West are still a big hunk of national sales. Western sales account for nearly 32 percent of national sled sales, continuing a trend of 30 percent or better for the past three years.
Before we get to the actual numbers, sales outside North America are worth a mention. After sliding about 4 percent in 2008, snowmobile sales jumped nearly 7 percent in Europe and Russia for 2009.
That jump ate into the United States' domination of market share, which was 48.58 percent of worldwide sales a year ago but now sits at 41.88 percent in 2009.
Now we present the latest snowmobile sales figures for 2009 in the exclusive SnoWest Magazine annual snowmobile sales report.