Harley-Davidson has reported a 24.3% decrease in U.S. sales during Q1 2010, compared to Q1 2009. Worldwide, the motorcycle manufacturer has seen a sales drop of 18.2% in the first three months of 2010, despite modest sales increases in Europe and Canada.
The global powersports industry is suffering from a weak global economy and tightening credit. The heavyweight segment of the motorcycle industry appears to be taking the biggest hit, as bikes in this category are rarely purchased as alternative transportation for commuters concerned over rising fuel prices.
On the plus side, Harley-Davidson’s financing arm returned to profit in Q1 2010 after three successive quarters of operating losses. Put another way, Harley-Davidson is seeing fewer defaults on credit, which could be a sign of overall economic improvement. If you can afford to pay your motorcycle loan, chances are you’re paying the other bills (like your mortgage) as well.
The 24.3% decrease in sales may seem steep, but it does represent a slowdown in sales decline when compared to the previous three quarters. Going into the summer riding season, Harley Davidson is optimistic about the remainder of 2010; in fact, their end of year projection is for a modest 10% decline compared to 2009.