Nearly 90 percent of dealers responding to a survey on June market conditions reported retail growth in June — up from 70 percent in May — the strongest reading in the survey’s six-year history.
The strong retail demand, combined with manufacturing shutdowns in the spring due to covid-19, prompted 86 percent of the 103 respondents to characterize new boat inventory as too low, versus just 3 percent that said it was too high, according to results of the Pulse Report, a monthly survey conducted by Baird Research in conjunction with the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Trade Only Today.
Dealer sentiment leapt for the second month in a row; sentiment on current conditions jumped to 89 from 76 in May, and the 3- to 5-year outlook improved to 71 from 64 in May.
Dozens of dealers echoed that they couldn’t keep boats in stock.
“Everything is selling, almost no matter the price,” wrote one respondent in a section asking dealers to comment on what is working.
Limited inventory is driving quick decisions from customers, commented one dealer.
“The virus crisis has caused a staycation boom,” wrote another. “Demand for boats went through the roof. We will sell out of boats for the first time in our history. Marketing on the internet is very important and will become even more important as we progress through our crises.”
Several dealers worried that they would run out of new boats well before the end of the summer.
“End of February of this year we felt our inventory was high for that time of year,” wrote one retailer. “Now the statement is that we do not have enough inventory to sell to our customers. The manufacturers will be hard pressed in the immediate future to keep up with the demand. End of May is when we saw an increase in sales.”
“I have been in the marine business for 46 years and have never seen the marine business sales increase like it has recently,” the dealer added. “Being in business this long, we have a great relationship with other dealers with similar product and have been able to purchase boats from them. We also have seen an increase in first-time boat buyers which will help in repeat sales.”
The pandemic was still playing a major role for some dealers, however.
“In Miami we are still not allowing customers into our facility as the covid rates are spiking,” wrote one dealer. “But curbside pickup is working well, even though the weather is getting extremely hot. We put up a tent for shade.”
Marine stocks should expect to see increases as investors favor a restocking environment over a de-stocking environment, according to the report.