Industry optimism continues

Having experienced a successful boat show season and strong start to the peak boating months, the marine industry continues to be optimistic about 2004 sales.
Wholesale dollar sales of all boats were up 16.2 percent through February compared to prior year numbers, based on the February Monthly Shipment Report released in June by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. According to the report, the traditional powerboat segments, (outboard, sterndrive, and inboard boats) were up 15.6 percent in dollars, and up 10.1 percent in units shipped year to date.
“February was the second month in a row where manufacturer wholesale shipments increased,” said NMMA Statistics director James Petru. “Total Boat shipments for February were up 25 percent compared to the previous year and on a year-to-date basis, total boat shipments were up 10 percent through February.”
Through April, Info-Link reported an increase in most boat categories in its monthly Bellwether Report. The examination of retail registration data in major boating states showed continued strength of the 15-foot-plus powerboat segment.
“April’s data shows an up-tick in almost all categories, regardless of whether we look at 3-, 6-, or 12-month moving averages” said Jesse Wells, director of Sales and Marketing at Info-Link. “This seems to be especially encouraging since even the PWC, stern, and ski boat markets have seen a lift in the April registrations.”
Similarly, boating retailer West Marine is reporting sales growth for May. The company said that its net sales were up 10.3 percent for the four weeks ended May 29, and comparable store net sales for May increased 6.0 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
“We were very pleased with our May sales results,” said John Edmondson, CEO of West Marine. “The month of June is approximately half of our total sales in the second quarter. Based upon the expected impact of Independence Day sales events shifting from July last year into June this year, we remain comfortable with our second quarter comparable store sales guidance of an increase of 7 percent to 8 percent over last year.”
Some of the remaining questions include the impact of the instability in Iraq, the rising cost of materials, and continuously high gas prices.

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