Miami: “We’ve got a pretty good run ahead of us”

MIAMI — Between 2006 and 2009, new boat sales were down 55 percent, National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich said in a State of the Industry Breakfast before the Miami Boat Show. However, during the same period, total boat sales were only down 14 percent — which he says shows how committed people are to the boating lifestyle.

“I think that’s fairly amazing that during the worst economic downturn in history, total sales were only down 14 percent,” Dammrich said. “It shows the passion and desire for boating people have.”

He says people flocked to preowned boats because of better value, but they didn’t necessarily get out of boating. And with a huge installed base of boaters and some positive economic indicators hinting at the beginning of a turnaround, he sees the potential for positive year over year growth in 2011.

While sales were still falling at the end of 2010, the rate of decline was slowing, and he predicted retail sales in 2011 could be up 10 to 15 percent.

Dammrich pointed to 10 reasons for his optimism, which included: increased consumer confidence, decreased savings and increased spending, growing light vehicle sales, growing RV sales, sustained GDP growth, dealer inventories at some of their lowest historic levels, used boat inventory drying up, used boat prices rising, the unavailability of late model used boats in the pre-owned market and manufacturers introducing new models with innovative features and accessories.

During past recessionary cycles, Dammrich said the period where consumer confidence is declining lasts about 27 months, which he suggested is the period the industry has just been through. On the other hand, he said periods of improving consumer confidence tend to last about 60 months.

“We’ve got a pretty good run ahead of us,” he said.

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