According to the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), registrations in April dropped 13.1% compared to April 2017, and considering registrations in April last year were significantly behind those of 2016, the results made for a particularly disappointing viewing. However, it was better news for May, with latest data showing total registrations of 10,851, which was 0.6% ahead of May 2017. Year to date totals at the end of May show 0.5% growth over last year which is a step in the right direction.
It was better news on the weather front with May being a warm and dry month providing great riding conditions for many and this has continued for much of June. Following a delayed spring, the industry has certainly needed this. Indeed, a number of dealers confirmed that sales and demand has increased since late April and that they had a decent May. With conditions remaining favourable during June, this should help maintain momentum. However, high prices, increased insurance premiums and suppressed consumer confidence is having a negative effect on purchasing, and in view of the current political landscape, economic uncertainty is only going to continue.
May 2018 vs April 2017 Summary
● Trail/enduro sector experienced strongest upturn in May at 30.8% vs 2017
● Touring sector took second place with a growth of 29.1% vs 2017, albeit these are sold in small numbers
● Following a dip in April, Adventure Sports saw their success resume in May with an uplift of 5.8%
● Naked machines also experienced growth following a decline in May with registrations 4.6% up vs 2017.
● Following several months of growth, scooters saw a downturn in May at 13.5% behind 2017.
● Supersports saw the biggest decline at 21.4% vs 2017, which is in line with their dwindling demand
● Downturn for mopeds continued in May at 13.8% vs 2017
Customer finance penetration was believed to be broadly in line overall with last year. Interestingly, self-funding seems to be on the increase this year. PCP remains the focus and it comes as no surprise that increasing prices are helping to drive PCP forward. However, there remain dealers whose finance take up is still mainly hire purchase.
In terms of discounting, opinions were split between offering the same amount or more than last year. Understandably, a fair number of dealers avoid discounting, as they do not want to de-value the product, but there is increased pressure to do so this year to boost sales. However, interestingly a few respondents have maintained stronger profit margins this year.
What was hot in May?
● Kawasaki Z900 RS continues to fly
● Ducati Multistrada 1260 has had a good start
● Kawasaki Z1000 SX maintains its success
● Yamaha MT range continues to be good news
● New Honda CBR125 has had a promising start for some
It has been a bit of a disappointing season so far and it is certainly a tough market out there at the moment. As for what is likely during the next few months is very uncertain but the hope has to be that following a delayed start, the season will finish late this year, but this is very weather dependent. However, the British summer has featured a great start at least. Sales and demand seemed to taper off earlier in 2017 compared to recent years when some dealers had a busy time even in December. If something similar occurs this year, there remains a realistic chance that 2018 will finish ahead of last year, albeit unlikely to be significantly ahead now. The next few months should shed some light on this but for now, hope remains for the rest of the year.