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New-Boat Demand Continues

Dealer outlook on current conditions ticked down slightly, but the 3- to 5-year sentiment improved in September.

Dealer outlook on current conditions ticked down slightly, but the 3- to 5-year sentiment improved in September.

Marine retailers say good weather helped drive new-boat demand in September, but many continue to lose sales because they were unable to get product.

In this month’s Pulse Report survey, 69 percent of the 86 dealer respondents said they saw retail growth in September — a month that typically accounts for around 6 percent of annual retail sales — but 82 percent said new-boat inventory was too low, versus 1 percent that said it was too high.

“People want to buy product. I just wish I could get some,” said one dealer responding to the survey, which is conducted by Baird Research in conjunction with the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Soundings Only Today.

Another dealer called product backlogs “brutal.”

“Wait time is too long for some customers looking for a particular boat,” another said. “Service times and appointments are backing up, creating some client frustration.”

Used inventory also remained near record lows, with 89 percent of retailers saying it was too lean. “Never seen an inventory situation like we are experiencing in 30 years of sales,” one dealer said.

Dealer sentiment on current conditions edged down to 85 from 87 in August, still remaining in extremely positive territory. The 3- to 5-year outlook rose from 59 in August to 70 in September, reflecting strong retail demand, as well as economic uncertainty around the pandemic and the upcoming presidential election.

“Concerned about the election and general economy, what next year will look like with Covid and people being employed, and if access to credit will tighten up,” said a dealer.

Still, some said they are already seeing demand carry over to next season. “Customer orders are starting to pour in, as customers realize they have to order now to get a boat before next season,” one retailer said.

Read more about the results in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.

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