Maybe it’s all the talk about the “fiscal cliff” or a general uncertainty in the overall economy that’s causing equipment dealers serving the rural lifestyle and lawn and landscape markets to hold back on their projections for 2013. On the other hand, very few dealers are exhibiting any real signs of pessimism about business levels in 2013, either.

Based on the results of the 2013 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey conducted by Rural Lifestyle Dealer in late November and December, nearly 90% (89.8%) of dealers serving the rural lifestyle equipment market believe their total revenues will be as good as or better than what they saw in 2012.

Broken out, 45% of dealers in this equipment segment expect revenues to grow in 2013. Another 45% are projecting little or no change in their 2013 revenues compared to the levels they saw in 2012. Only 10.2% of survey respondents expect revenues to decline in 2013 vs. 2012.

Compared to last year at this time though, slightly fewer equipment dealers serving the rural lifestyle market are looking for significant gains in overall revenues for the full year of 2013 — 48.1% in 2012 vs. 44.9% for 2013. At the same time, fewer dealers are expecting their revenues to decline vs. a year ago — 10.2% for 2013 vs. 16.1% in 2012.

What it boils down to is more dealers (44.9%) are forecasting little or no change, or essentially flat revenues, in 2013 compared with 2012. Since most dealers are reporting they had a pretty good year last year, the outlook for the rural lifestyle market segment in the year ahead is a positive one.

As the residential housing market, which is a strong indicator of the health of the rural lifestyle and lawn and landscape equipment segment, continues to stabilize, most dealers, though cautious, see solid prospects in the year ahead.

The bottom line is that far more dealers expect 2013 business levels to improve or stay at about the same levels they saw in the past year than are expecting business to decline — and that’s always a positive sign.

The complete report, including what equipment lines dealers are planning to add in the year ahead, is presented in the Winter 2013 issue of Rural Lifestyle Dealer.