Specialty-Equipment Manufacturers Say Best Months Are Ahead

  Slightly less than 48% of retailers reported increased sales through June 2010 compared to last year. Nearly half think sales will be up through October, forecasting on average a 16% increase.

Optimism among specialty-equipment manufacturers is running high, according to data in a new SEMA Financial Benchmarking report, although that cheer doesn’t run as deep among retailers and distributors on the street level of the industry.

Of manufacturers surveyed for the study, 70% reported increased year-to-date sales through June 2010 compared to the year prior. That’s a 20% increase from data gathered at the beginning of the year.

Manufacturers may be moving more product, but from the looks of the retail and distribution numbers, that product may be sitting in inventory, as nearly 48% of retailers and 52% of distributors reported increased sales through the same period.

Not surprisingly then, 64% of manufacturers expect sales to improve, on average 17.5% when August, September and October numbers are totaled. That’s a little more optimistic than retailers and distributors are projecting, with just 45% of the former, and 50% of the latter, expecting a fall increase. Distributors and retailers who forecast a bump were about even on how much to expect, between 16-18 percent.

All three industry segments cited “poor sales” as their most important business problem. But “government requirements and red tape” as well as “competition from large businesses” factored next-most on the minds of manufacturers, while distributors cite “competition from Internet sales” as their second-most pressing obstacle. Slightly more than 11% of retailers listed “competition from large businesses” as their second worry.

Data is based on retailer, manufacturer and distributor responses in the just-released June SEMA Financial Benchmarking survey. Follow this link to learn more about the SEMA Financial Benchmarking program. Businesses participating in the Financial Benchmarking program receive access to finished reports before it is made available to the rest of the industry. Partcipating is easy; simply click on the appropriate link, whether you're a retailer, manufacturer or distributor.