A year ago people thought that 2011 would see the start of the recovery in our industry. Sadly this was not the case. It is doubtful that 2012 will see any significant pick-up either. Why? Consumer confidence remains low; jobless numbers are high, the housing market is dreadful and the stock market is all over the place. 2012 is also a Presidential election year and the negative advertising and populist rhetoric that accompanies it will certainly not encourage large discretionary purchases like boats!
So what can we expect this year? Probably a flat year in terms of overall numbers although there are some people hopeful that the last six months will have a slight uptick. Consolidation will continue in all segments of the industry with boat dealers and boat shows in particular feeling the pain. Boat shows will be acutely challenged by falling numbers of exhibitors and attendees resulting in the cancellation of some while others will merge with those catering to a different outdoor audience.
Boat owners will continue to spend on items to keep their boats in reasonable condition and may even reward themselves for not buying a new boat by upgrading their current one on key products like electronics. There will be a large emphasis on price incentives across the industry to keep sales alive with the winners being those companies whose products are attractive and very well priced.
Overall the business philosophy will be “do whatever we have to do to stay alive this year.” New models and products will be delayed or cancelled while existing products will get cosmetic attention. This “stay alive” philosophy will result in unprecedented buying opportunities for existing and potential boat owners. Just how attractive they were will be known this time next year.
Posted by: James