Despite 2019 starting strongly, this year is proving to be a tough one for the motorcycle market. Against the same time in 2018, sales increased in the first couple of months, however since March, they have been erratic with some months behind and others modestly ahead. The main issue is the political backdrop continuing to hinder consumer spending. Paul McDonald, Glass’s Leisure Vehicles Editor said, “The UK failed to leave the EU in March, changed Prime Ministers in July, failed to leave the EU again in October, and now faces a General Election on 12 December. Economic uncertainty shows little sign of abating and with it consumer spending is likely to remain suppressed.”
According to the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), following a small increase in September, registrations in October suffered a decline of 2.2% versus October last year. This declined matched recent feedback from dealers indicating demand during October felt poor compared to 2018. Overall, registrations remain 1.9% ahead of 2018, thanks to the strong first quarter.
October 2019 Highlights
- Five out of nine categories recorded growth
- Mopeds continue their newfound success enjoying strongest growth
- Customs gave a strong performance but are sold in relatively small numbers
- Adventure Sports and Naked markets both suffered a decline in October
Hot YTD in October
- Honda PCX125 remains top of the table
- BMW R1250 GS continues its success as runner up
- Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 retains its strong performance
- Yamaha MT-07 still a popular choice
What can the industry expect moving forward?
In view of recent political developments with the General Election and a further BREXIT delay, Glass’s view is that registration performance is likely to remain subdued until at least Q3 2020. Even if Brexit suffers no further delays, it will still take time for consumer confidence to recover. With this in mind, the industry should look to the second half of 2020 for the economy to settle.
Despite the economic and political backdrop, demand for used motorcycles retains reasonable buoyancy with some months reporting stronger activity than in 2018. However, our recent dealer feedback suggests demand in October declined versus October last year. The wet UK autumnal weather continues to have a negative effect on sales although dealers point to politics as the main reason for the decline in activity.
- Yamaha NMax
- Ducati Multistrada
- Yamaha R1
- Honda PCX125
The majority of dealers are finding the acquisition of stock more difficult this year. The main issue appears to be the availability of part exchanges generated from fewer new bike sales. Also affecting used stock availability are owners opting to sell privately and increasing used bike exports coupled with the depressed value of Stirling.
Connected to a further delay for BREXIT and the General Election on the 12th December, UK economic uncertainty continues to intensify. Combining this with a seasonal fall in demand and the weather forecast for the rest of the year, which one dealer described “awful”, the majority of dealers expect demand to decline over the next month.
Considering this for December data, the Glass’s team will apply a modest decrease across much of the guide. The exceptions are where trade feedback or evidence from the market suggests further adjustments are necessary.