Machinery sales take hit in summer

VICTORIAN TRACTOR sales have been the only bright spark in a disappointing January for machinery sales.

However, a national survey of dealers has found optimism that current turnover is picking up and will improve in the next six months.

The impact of extreme weather events combined with a prolonged bushfire season have considerably affected sales especially in NSW, which are down 33 per cent and 27 per cent in Queensland, while total tractor sales across the country remain 16 per cent down compared to this time last year.

According to Tractor and Machinery Association executive director Gary Northover, January sales were strongest in the 100 to 200 hp (75–150 kW) category, up 2.6 per cent.

Mr Northover said the 200 hp (150 kW) and above range was down 13 per cent while the 40 to 100 hp (30–75 kW) range was down 20 per cent and the under 40 hp (30 kW) range again struggled, down 31 per cent.

Recent widespread rains have seen optimism return to agriculture with farmers in some areas planting late summer crops to capitalise on strong commodity prices.

“Despite the positive outlook provided by current rains, we still expect tractor sales to be down this year with early predictions putting the total at around 10 000 units,” Mr Northover said.

“The impact of the drought is likely to be felt for some time yet and 2020 is unlikely to be the year of full recovery.”

Conditions for combine harvester sales continue to be challenging with only a small number of sales completed in January, although it is generally around this time of the year forward orders are placed for deliveries and the outlook for these is presently mixed across the nation.

Hay baler sales have taken a bit of a breather in January, down 29 per cent on last year’s bumper result however the prevailing view is demand will remain strong and anything that can be cut, will be cut, so another strong year for baler sales is expected.

Mower sales were also down 50 per cent for the month.

Despite a lacklustre market, opportunities for buyers remain positive.

“Low interest rates combined with strong inventory levels mean buying opportunities for farmers will remain strong throughout the year,” Mr Northover said.

The 2020 TMA Conference will be held on Tuesday, July 21 at the Hyatt Place Melbourne, Essendon Fields.

This year’s event is themed “Towards 2030” and is focused on the challenges expected in autonomy, sales and marketing effectiveness and many more as we launch into a new decade.

Full program details will be shared in the next couple of months.