As managers of a boat-sales website such as BoatTrader.com, we watch consumer behavior every month for clues to shifts in the market. One of those is the number of searches for boats conducted on the site, which in 2011 declined by 13 percent, despite a greater number of visitors to BoatTrader.com than in 2010. With the new year that trend changed, and for the first quarter of 2012 visitor searches rose significantly, with 6.2 million total boat searches, compared to 5.8 million a year earlier.
In 2010, during the months of June and July, visitors searched more than 3 million times for boats. Last year in the same months, 2.7 and 2.9 million searches, respectively, were the peak for the year. The worst quarter was the third, with searches down 22 percent from 2010, perhaps affected by reports that a double-dip recession might be coming.
Since January, however, interest in boat ownership, as reflected on the Boat Trader site, has improved this year. Searches increased 7 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2011, and were tracking close to the level of the 2010 numbers.