Total retail sales by Caterpillar North American dealers rose a whopping 23 percent in December compared to the prior year, nearly doubling a strong 12 percent increase in November.
December is now the eighth straight month of total 2017 North American retail sales gains for Caterpillar dealers, starting with modest 1 to 4 percent gains until October of last year, when dealers reported gains of 7 percent. The sales are reported by geographic region for the three-month rolling period each month, compared with the same period of the prior year.
Even with those strong numbers, North American dealer December retail sales lagged behind those from Latin America (up 55 percent), Asia/Pacific (up 50 percent) and Europe/Africa/Middle East (up 37 percent).
Taking a deeper dive into the construction sales story, Caterpillar’s North American construction industries retail sales increased 24 percent in December, compared with the prior year, and almost mirror the firm’s total retail sales by dealers. Construction retail sales were showing declines through April of last year, when they decreased 4 percent.
The switch to the positive side of the ledger happened in May, when North American construction retail sales increased by 4 percent compared to the prior year. Modest retail sales gains continued through September of last year, averaging around 4 percent over 2016’s numbers.
Starting in October, these sales took a sharp turn northward seeing increases of 10 percent (October), 14 percent (November) and 24 percent (December).
The swing has been even more dramatic in Caterpillar’s resource industries side, which includes its mining products, and with energy and transportation retail sales.
Resource Industries retail sales were showing double-digit declines in North America through April, and single-digit declines through October. The switch happened in November, when retail sales jumped by 5 percent over the prior year. December’s North American resource industries dealer retail sales then shot through the roof, with a 23-percent increase compared to the prior year.
On Caterpillar’s energy and transportation side, which is reported in global total sales numbers, retail sales have swung up and down throughout most of the year. Since September, however, total retail sales for the company’s power generation, industrial, transportation and oil and gas sectors have risen, starting with a 5 percent increase in September compared to the prior year. Since then, these businesses have seen double-digit increases, with October and November both showing a 23 percent increase each and December having a 19 percent gain.
Caterpillar says the information presented “based on unaudited reports that are voluntarily provided to Caterpillar by its independent dealers and which are not subject to Caterpillar’s internal controls over financial reporting,” and therefore “may not be accurate and/or complete.”
Cat says the information provides “an approximate indication of the trends, direction and magnitude of retail sales,” although it is separate from the company’s audited financial statements.