GE Capital survey points to increased sales, consumer demand in 2013


Brent Renneke
February 28, 2013
Filed under Features, Top Stories

The marine industry predicted 2013 would be a year of favorable sales increases as consumer demand becomes less of a concern, according to results from a survey conducted by GE Capital, Commercial Distribution Finance, at the 2013 International Miami Boat Show.

In the survey, 43 percent of participants predicted 5- to 10-percent growth in 2013, while another 30 percent predicted growth of 10 to 15 percent.

“I was happy to see that dealers and manufacturers were predicting favorable sales increases. Also, consumer demand is much less of a concern this year than it was when we did our survey in 2012,” Bruce Van Wagoner, president of CDF’s marine group, said in an interview with Boating Industry. “Both are great indicators of the strength of the market and of the industry.”

In 2012, 62 percent of survey respondents felt consumer demand was the greatest concern. This year, the number of participants citing consumer demand as the biggest concern decreased to 42 percent.

Respondents who expect long production lead times increased to 30 percent from 21 percent last year. Van Wagoner said some dealers felt the effects of inadequate stocking last year, which has led to many ordering earlier this year.

“I think last year, dealers may have missed some sales opportunities by being more conservative with their ordering, and manufacturers can’t always instantly meet the needs of dealers. This year, ordering has stepped up in anticipation of a strong selling season,” Van Wagoner told Boating Industry.

More than half (51 percent) of the marine industry participants said the best time to increase inventory levels was right now in order to have adequate models for the spring selling season, according to GE Capital’s results.

Van Wagoner also said he has seen more dealers placing orders well ahead of last year, and GE Capital is increasing credit lines to accommodate the additional stocking.

Many of those orders may consist of low-cost models as 32 percent of respondents said these “base” models will have the largest impact in 2013 – up from 23 percent last year.

Van Wagoner said these expectations are a sign respondents feel buyers are confident investing in boating and are able to afford it.

“I would say the majority of boat buyers are in the market for lower-priced products. But low-cost models still amount to a significant investment, so it is very positive for the industry that this category is expected to be popular this year,” Van Wagoner said.

The expected top three segments in demand this year are, respectively, aluminum boats, fiberglass fishing boats and recreation boats, according to survey participants.


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