After several years which have seen the tractor market swing turbulently from high to low and back again, the relative calm of this year’s sales performance is perhaps to be welcomed by the trade.
Last year, it will be recalled, the industry experienced falls month-on-month of as much as 20% and from February through to September there was no respite from a downward trend.
Calmer waters this year, although, after last year’s poor showing, the industry could have been hoping for a few more increases.
Zero change in January was followed by a small decline in February with March climbing by 4.3% and April balancing the first quarter up with a fall of about the same percentage.
And then, suddenly, May raised a smile by recording a 6.3% increase with 1615 registrations and June completed the half year with a 6% increase.
So, for the first six months of 2006 tractor registrations total 7344 units, which is just 2.3% up on the same period last year.
Too early, perhaps, to make any serious predictions for the full year, but most would agree it will not be far off the 13,301 units recorded by the AEA in 2005.
The AEA has also released data for the first three months of 2006 in respect of regional performance.
Best in show is the east with an increase of 23.3%.
Wales and Northern Ireland have also done well with increases of 21.5% and 20.3%, respectively.
Such increases would tend to suppress the traditional livestock/arable anomalies.
Worst performing region by far is the West Midlands, which recorded a fall of 20.6% when compared with the first three months of 2005.
Interesting and important as they are, such figures should not be taken in isolation.
With the fickle tractor markets of late, to take one year’s performance is not to glean the full picture or the trends of the industry.