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July 4th always good for boating

Ah, the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Gotta love it.

Our customers will hit the water during what is normally the biggest boating weekend of the summer. I recall studies done some time ago by the University of Rhode Island that found slightly more than 50 percent of the boats in a typical marina will cast off this weekend, the highest percentage of use for all summer weekends. Of course, that does not include the thousands more boats that will be launched at ramps across America.

Add to that the typical marina with a gas dock will pump the highest number of weekend gallons from Friday through Monday evening. And, with gas costs at an 11-year low, pump they will.

Gas prices haven’t been this low for the July 4th holiday weekend since 2005. If you go by national averages, gas is at least 43 cents a gallon cheaper than just last year and a whopping $1.33 a gallon less than two summers ago.

Notably, if you ask 10 people whether they think gas prices usually go up before a big holiday weekend, likely nine will say yes. Surprise, they actually don’t. The drop in gas prices is actually cyclical. For example, over the past 10 years the price per gallon has normally dropped going into the July 4th weekend, according to the folks at GasBuddy.com, which tracks retail pricing.

More good gas news. Last year the gas prices peaked in June, and GasBuddy thinks the average may have peaked in mid-June this year. Even more, GasBuddy is predicting that prices will continue to slide for the rest of this summer — actually for the rest of this year. By Thanksgiving, the national average could be $1.99 a gallon or less.

The last time we saw gas averaging under $2 a gallon was last April. It’s attributable to the worldwide imbalance between supplies and demand. Interestingly, the U.S. Energy Information Agency says we’re at an all-time-high demand for gas this summer. But demand isn’t pushing up prices because production is also high, eliminating any supply problem.

Moreover, when we look forward to a potential average price of $1.99 a gallon, we know the average in many states will be significantly less than that. So, for states where boaters can boat year-round, the rest of this year looks good, too.

Lastly, although we never want to see any boating family’s fun on the water interrupted by a mechanical problem, we are dealing with machinery, and breakdowns can happen.

In addition to expecting an increase in service business next week, customer-centered dealers might consider notifying customers of a special hot-line number they can reach all weekend to at least discuss a problem, should they have one.

Who knows whether simple instructions couldn’t be given over the phone to solve a problem, especially for a customer who may not use his boat frequently enough?

So, Happy July 4th, and thanks for reading Dealer Outlook.

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