MIAMI — Despite challenges, boat sales are increasing and are expected to ride the momentum for the coming two years.
That’s according to National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich, who addressed a crowd of roughly 500 at the Miami International Boat Show this morning.
“Consumer confidence is at a 10-year high,” Dammrich said. “Real disposable income continues to grow. Consumer spending continues to grow. Gasoline prices remain low. We’ve got two, two and a half years of real prosperity ahead.”
The industry still needs to make gains in reaching a younger and more diverse audience, Dammrich said.
“The interesting thing is that research is showing us people between the ages of 25 and 34 have a very high interest in the boating lifestyle. In fact, [they have] a higher interest than any other age group,” Dammrich said.
Another challenge is getting people to actually buy a boat — only 2 percent of people who research the purchase of a boat pull the trigger, Dammrich said.
That is in part attributable to “a lack of transparency of what the real coast of boating is,” Dammrich said, adding that they aren’t put off by the extra costs, but are repelled by the hidden costs. “This is a challenge we’re going to need to deal with.”
“We have a prospering industry, and a bigger and better show to serve it,” Dammrich said.
First-day attendance at the Miami International Boat Show was up 8 percent from last year. It features $3 billion of products with 1,300 boats on display, including 550 in the water.
The industry was up 6 percent in unit sales in 2016 and had an 11 percent increase in dollar sales. It has seen “an acceleration in growth in the last several months,” Dammrich said.
According to data from ITR Economics, the industry is expected to peak in the first quarter of 2018, continuing to the first or second quarter of 2019.
“This show produces $6 million of economic activity to this area every year,” Dammrich said.