Same-store boat dealer sales plunge in May

Boat dealer sales dropped by their largest amount in more than five years in May, giving credence to anecdotal reports of slowing activity during the month.

Overall sales fell 7.4 percent year-over-year, the biggest one month drop since the recovery began, according to the latest report from CDK Global Recreation, which is based on data from users of the company’s Lightspeed software.

It was the first time same-store sales have dropped this year and only the second time since January 2015. Still, overall same-store sales have been up year-over-year for 25 of the last 29 months dating back to January 2014.

The biggest cause of the downturn was an 8.2 percent drop in unit sales, the first year-over-year decline since December 2015 and the largest since October 2014. This could be a reflection of what many in the industry had speculated — that sales had been moved earlier in the year with the mild winter in many parts of the country. Gains posted earlier this year were probably unsustainable, with, for example, unit sales up 28.8 percent year-over-year in February.

Service department revenue was down slightly in May, 0.7 percent, from a year earlier. Service revenue has been down three of the first five months of 2016.

Parts and accessories revenue was up 0.2 percent for the month, improving on the 1.6 percent decline posted in April.



  1. Rain, Rain, Rain– Go Away! This is the issue in the Northeast. Sales calls and inquiries are still better than last year, we just need a couple of great boating days!

    Keep the faith,

  2. Rainiest May on record here in Virginia!

  3. I sell boats, motorcycles, pwc, atv’s and side by sides. We had 10-15% growth in both 2014 and 2015 while the years prior to those were stagnant. Based on those numbers I forecast our dealership to increase across the board another 15%. 2016 started out on track for the 1st qtr, april went soft and then the bottom fell out in may with a 40% decline. I began to ask around various other dealers and also other retail product segments was it just my store, or brands, local or regional issue. Many told me its a nationwide issue as sales in almost every product category are down, big box and mom-pop stores alike. A stock analyst called me yesterday and told me Polaris industries announced a $40 million lowering of projections, following a similar announcement last year in nov or december. I believe the early weather helped move sales forward, and the bad weather hurt sales in may, but there is something else underlying, several saying the economy is going to decline again or already is.

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