If you live in someplace in the US or Canada that normally experiences harsh winter weather, you probably don't need me to tell you that things were just weird last winter.

From the end of 2023 and stretching into the beginning of 2024, most places where winter is usually cold and vicious experienced a significant reprieve. For those who've been around more than a few winters, we know that the severity of winter can (and does) vary from year to year. One year, it could be Blizzard Central, and the next year, you might just see gray skies all the time but next to no snow. It's cyclical, and that tendency isn't out of the ordinary.

However, winter from 2023 to 2024 wasn't just any year, quantifiably speaking. Both the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Canada's Weather Network agree: The US and Canada have both just experienced their single warmest winter on record. Period. Full stop.

How much warmer was it? In Canada, it was a full 1.3 degrees Celsius warmer than its previous warmest winter record. In the US, the 48 continental states experienced a collective winter that was 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin all recorded their warmest winters on record, while 26 other states each saw the 2023-2024 winter season crack their top 10 warmest winters of all time.

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That's Why Ski-Doo's Parent Company Says Snowmobile Sales Were Significantly Down This Winter

At the end of March 2024, Ski-Doo's parent company Bombardier Recreational Products released its FY2024 Q4 quarterly financial report. What were the results? Overall sales were down by 10 percent for the quarter. However, excluding snowmobile sales, BRP also noted that its quarterly sales would only have been down two percent rather than 10.

Since it was the fourth quarter of BRP's reporting year, it also released its yearly sales figures at the same time. Overall, BRP recorded sales growth of eight percent year-on-year across all powersports categories. Excluding snowmobiles, that number rose to 12 percent growth YoY. 

Throughout the report, BRP explicitly calls out what it terms "unfavourable winter conditions" across North America (well, the US and Canada, anyway) no less than ten times as a reason why snowmobile sales were so comparatively slow. As we've seen from both the US and Canada, it's not an invalid excuse. The weather was, indeed, measurably quite a bit warmer than usual. Less or even no snow means fewer people snowmobiling. The math isn't difficult to understand, even if you're not a finance expert.

By Contrast, Year-Round Product Sales Were Up Nine Percent

BRP breaks its products into two categories in this report: Year-round products and Seasonal products. Year-round products include side-by-sides, ATVs, and all the three-wheelers that Can-Am sells. Seasonal Products include snowmobiles, personal watercraft (Sea-Doo), and pontoons. 

For FY24 Q4, BRP reported a side-by-side sales rise in the low 20 percent range, an ATV sales decrease in the low single digits, and a three-wheeler decrease in the high 20 percent range (definitive figures not listed). 

By contrast, the Seasonal Products category saw revenues down by 28 percent. Snowmobiles were down in the high teens percentage-wise, while personal watercraft were down about 60 percent and pontoons were down in the mid-70 percent range. 

Powersports Parts and Accessories revenues were down 23 percent, and Marine revenues were down 32 percent as well. As a direct result, BRP laid off 129 employees at an assembly plant that makes Manitou pontoon boats in Lansing, Michigan at the end of March 2024, according to Crain's Detroit Business

Earlier in the year, in September 2023, BRP-owned boat manufacturer Alumacraft announced that it would lay off 68 workers at its St. Peter, Minnesota plant, wiping out one entire shift (and going from two shifts to just one). Prior guidance in 2023 from BRP noted that the company was simultaneously building a new boat manufacturing plant in Chihuahua City, Mexico. 

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