Weather and Pricing Curb Snowmobile Sales, Dealer Says

Snowmobile sales have hit the skids for New Hudston, Mich.-based Speed Nation, and inconsistent weather, high pricing, and a changing consumer dynamic are to blame, Finance Manager Nicholas Clark told Powersports Finance.

Speed Nation sells Polaris, Yamaha, and Arctic Cat snowmobiles. The dealership has averaged 30 snowmobile sales per month this year, compared with 50 snowmobiles in December 2018, Clark said. About half of the dealership’s sales are financed, most often by Synchrony Financial and Sheffield Financial.

“We just haven’t had the consistent weather to have that driving force,” Clark said. “When we’ve got a combined total of maybe 20 inches of snow in Oakland County, it just hurts sales.”

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Additionally, the pricing of the vehicles presents a challenge because it’s harder for consumers to justify the expense on top of the limited window for riding. For instance, snowmobiles appeal to seasonal workers who have time off in the winter.

“Machines used to be $4,000 to $7,000, and it was considered a hobby,” Clark added. “Now, you’re talking $15,000 for a new sled, so anybody that’s going to spend $15,000 on a machine that they can only use three months out of the year is going to have the opportunity to take advantage of that season as much as they can.”

While consumers have a limited window to ride snowmobiles, dealers have that same amount of time to sell them. Generally, depending on the area, the sales season for snowmobiles is from December to mid-March. If it’s a slow season and inventory isn’t moving, then the dealer may have to accept losses to sell the vehicles.

“Sometimes we have to sell [snowmobiles] cheaper than cost because it’s cheaper to [lose] $200 [on a unit] than it is to pay off the floorplan until next fall,” Clark explained.

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