With all the talk going on over here about the stimulus and tax cuts you would think there has to be something in it for the boating industry. Unfortunately this is not the case. Take the current rhetoric about extending the Bush tax cuts for example – these are already in place thus extending them is not going to cause people to purchase more boats than they are currently doing. Not extending them would cause fewer boats to be bought.
It is becoming increasingly clear that there is unlikely to be a significant turnaround in our industry until 2013 or even later. Those businesses that want to be around when things improve are having to take action now. Take boat dealers for example. In the “good old days” of 2006/7 there were around 4,300 full service stocking boat dealers around the country. Today, according to Phil Keeter, president, Marine Retailers Association of America (MRAA), there are some 3,100 still in business. Keeter says that these dealers have taken all actions necessary to rid themselves of inventory and its negative cash flow implications. He says “2011 will be a recovery year for the recreational boating industry. We have taken the necessary action to keep our inventory levels down and control our costs. What we need now are more customers in our showrooms.”
That might be easier said than done. We are in the winter season when retail demand for boat sales is down anyway. In other consumer market segments when sales are down prices get reduced to generate demand. When asked about the retail prices of boats Keeter says that they remain high but that he expects to see plainer models with fewer accessories and electronics, for example, being displayed and sold in an effort to keep the price down.
Posted by: James