Dealers optimistic headed into selling season

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Based on boat show performance and other recent indicators, the majority of dealers surveyed by Boating Industry are more optimistic than six months ago.

In the survey, conducted by Boating Industry and RBC Capital Markets’ leisure analyst, Ed Aaron, 60 percent of dealers said they were either somewhat or significantly more optimistic about the upcoming spring/summer selling season compared to six months ago.

About a quarter — 24 percent — of respondents felt the same as six months ago. Only 17 percent felt somewhat or significantly more pessimistic.

Two-thirds of respondents predicted at least some sales growth for new boats in 2011, measured in units, with most (41 percent) predicting modest 10 percent growth. Of the remaining responses, 26 percent predicted flat sales and 7 percent anticipate a decline in unit sales.

Predictions for used boat sales, again measured in units, were even more optimistic, with 73 percent of participants predicting growth. Most of the rest predicted flat sales — 21 percent — with 6 percent predicting some decline.

Boat shows have been seen as a positive indicator this year, and results for the group surveyed were generally positive. Measured in dollars, 45 percent saw their boat show sales increase, 35 percent saw flat sales and the rest saw decreased sales. Boat show traffic was also mostly positive, with 48 percent of respondents noting significantly or somewhat better traffic and 34 percent saying traffic was about the same.

Based on the survey, there is more concern about having enough used boat inventory than new inventory in 2011. For new boat inventory, 51 percent were not concerned, 34 percent were somewhat concerned and 14 percent were very concerned. For used boat inventory, 17 percent were not concerned, 43 percent were somewhat concerned and 40 percent were very concerned.

The survey of 278 dealers, which was conducted in early March, was split evenly between Brunswick and non-Brunswick dealers. The complete results will be included in Boating Industry’s Dealer Intelligence Special Report in the May issue.

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