For the third year in a row, lawn and garden equipment maintained its top spot on farm equipment dealers’ ranking of “Best Bets” list of products they believe will increase unit sales in 2017. And not too far behind are compact tractors (under 40 horsepower) in the #2 spot, and #5 on the list is utility tractors (40-100 horsepower).

Ag Equipment Intelligence, sister publication to Rural Lifestyle Dealer, conducted its 2017 Dealer Business Outlook & Trends survey in late August and the first 2 weeks of September. More than 230 dealers participated in the survey.

Overall, 40% of North American dealers expect their sales of lawn and garden gear will grow by 2-7%, while 6% are forecasting unit sales to increase by 8% or more. Nearly half (48%) see little or no change in sales of these products, which isn’t too surprising considering they’ve been at high levels for 3-4 years, making the comparison more challenging than if sales had been at low levels.

A solid one-third (33.5%) of participating dealers project sales of compact tractors will rise in the year ahead. Nearly 28% are forecasting increases ranging 2-7% and 6% anticipate an improvement of 8% or more in 2017. This would continue the strong trend in growth that small tractors have seen the past few years. Through the first 9 months of this year, unit sales of compacts are up nearly 16% year-over-year, with 12,600 units sold so far vs. 10,900 for same period of 2015, according to the most recent sales figures from the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

Sales of utility tractors have also demonstrated a solid upward trend in the past year, though not at the same level as compacts. According to AEM, unit sales through September are up 2.7% year-over-year. For 2017, 27% of dealers expect retail levels to increase, with 23% forecasting sales to be up 2-7% and 4% anticipating growth of 8% or more.


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