Usually high-sales season sees few buyers despite price markdowns, vendors report.
MOTORCYCLE dealers said this week that demand has plummeted and that they fear that if the situation did not change, their businesses could fail.
"In the first three months of last year, I sold about 300 motorcycles, but during the first quarter of this year, only 80 motorcycles have been sold," Hang Heng, a motorcycle dealer in Chamkarmon district, said.
So far, April has not brought any relief for motorcycle businesses, they said - the influx of customers that normally buy before the Khmer New Year have not appeared.
"Ahead of last New Year, there was a flood of customers queuing to buy motorcycles," he said, adding that he blamed the real estate downturn for the decline in sales.
Kim Hout of Chhay Honda said: "This time last year I could sell 40 to 50 motorcycles per day, because most of them were bought for travel during the New Year, even though they cost a lot."
But this year, not even discounted prices have brought in customers during what is normally the busy season, Kim Hout said.
"Last year a Honda Dream cost between US$1,700 to $1,800, and now it is just $1,630 per motorcycle," he said.
Lay Piseth, another motorcycle dealer in Phnom Penh's Chamkarmon district, said that since the sharp drop in motorcycle sales, he has been in the red every month.
"Last year, around 10 motorcycles were sold per day, but now one motorcycle sells every three days," he said.
Hang Heng was worried that if the tough times continue, he would have to close his business.
"I have lost money every month since the start of the year. If the situation has not recovered in six months, I will shut down
Matoba Michifumi, managing director of Yamaha Motor Cambodia Co, told the Post that Yamaha sales had dropped 25 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year, and that the outlook did not look good for the rest of 2009.
"Prior to the crisis, we estimated that motorcycle demand was around 140,000 a year, but now we have re-estimated the number to be 100,000 a year, mainly due to the real-estate crisis," he said.