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COVID propels growth in snowmobile sales to highest level in 25 years

One-third of buyers are new to snowmobiling.

MAPLE PLAIN, Minn. — Talk about a wild ride, try being a snowmobile dealer.

Kent Anderson, owner of Tri-K Sports in Maple Plain, says he was “scared to death,” in the early weeks of the global pandemic that sent the stock market plunging and shuttered manufacturing plants.

While Anderson feared sales of his Polaris sleds would hit the skids, “It is the opposite of what we thought was going to happen.”

Snowmobiles are hot. 

The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) reports sales are up 19% over last year.

That’s the best year-to-year growth in 25 years.

Ed Klim, ISMA president, says one-third of new sales have been to first-time snowmobilers – the most he’s ever seen.

“What we're finding is people want to recreate close to home. They don't want to get on an airplane and go south or they don't want to fly to Europe or they don't want to go on a cruise ship. So, they have a little extra money and snowmobiling has been their choice of recreation,” Klim says.

Like a lot of dealers, Anderson’s fall and early winter inventories were stunted by COVID-mandated factory shutdowns.

He's grateful for a recent shipment of sleds still wrapped in plastic in his parking lot.

Klim says at least two manufacturers have extended production past their normal seasonal end dates to meet demand.

The used market has also been hot. On Friday, Tri-K had just two pre-owned snowmobiles in its inventory.

Anderson says sales of Polaris Ranger side-by-sides have also been strong, pointing to a $39,000 model going out the door later in the day.

“Everything we got coming in through April is sold,” Anderson says.

 A dealer's dream, on track.