Tractor and machinery sales could hit a record high by the end of the year, even though rural customers are exercising caution, says an industry body.
Sales of tractors are up more than 25 per cent on this time last year and all sectors are showing buoyancy, said new NZ Tractor and Machinery Association president John Tulloch.
Year-to-date figures to the end of June showed a total of 1876 sales across all HP categories compared with 1448 in 2017: a total increase of 26.1 per cent.
Mr Tulloch, who was elected at the Mystery Creek Fieldays in June, said sales were back at near 2014 levels, but instead of favouring agriculture as back then, there was also increased spending within the lifestyle, viticulture and horticulture markets.
"It's rare to see every sector relatively buoyant at the same time. All the stars seem to be lining up so, bar a big shock, the outlook is definitely positive across the board."
He said, however, agricultural customers were being cautiously optimistic rather than going on big spending spree. There were concerns about the regulatory framework on water use and emissions, and the impacts of mycoplasma bovis.
"But the main reason for cautious spending in this sector is a healthy scepticism learned the hard way around forecast payouts as they don't always eventuate. Our sheep, beef and dairy export markets have all improved and while numbers of people attending Fieldays were up, most of our members reported that actual sales prospects were down. Farmers and contractors don't want to over commit themselves financially and see a repeat of the 2015 downturn."
Despite some caution, overall sales were looking very healthy and if the trajectory continued, tractor and machinery sales could possibly hit a new record high by the end of the year.
"We might be heading towards a record year but, like our customers, are being cautiously optimistic. As everyone well knows, we have no control over our climate and what it throws at us. But we're hoping to see these numbers continue."