New Boats Were Scarce in October

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New Boat Inventory

New Boat Inventory

Marine dealers continued to clamor for new boats to sell, but 88 percent say they were still at record low levels of inventory, according to a new poll that surveyed 72 retailers about October conditions.

“At this point, if we had it, we could sell it to someone.” wrote one dealer in the Pulse Report, a monthly survey conducted by Baird Research in conjunction with the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Soundings Trade Only. “The lack of product is not working.”

The lack of new products was listed as the No. 1 headwind dealers had in October — despite snow falling in some areas of the country and the upcoming election, which historically dampens new boat sales — and 69 percent said they saw that as the largest challenge ahead for 2021.

Biggest Challenge in 2021

Biggest Challenge in 2021

Several said that parts, accessories, and engines from most major OEMs were hard to get.

“Inventory availability will continue to be a problem along with post-election economic uncertainty,” wrote one, while another commented: “I have boats ordered in June and early July that still don’t have build dates.”

The pandemic and election also weighed on dealers.

“The economy and the pandemic,” said one dealer. “That is all we are going to be looking at. Demand is going to be there, and it looks like we will have enough product to meet most of it. Will the economy and the pandemic keep people from buying?”

Several listed political upheaval and uncertainty around the election and pandemic as deterrents to new boat sales.

“Dealers will be faced with a large income/tax basis for 2020, and then a foreseen lower income base for 2021,” wrote one dealer. “It will be hard to keep payroll levels and employee needs balanced.”

Still, 55 percent reported retail growth over October 2019, versus 21 percent who saw a decline in business.

Dealer Sentiment

Dealer Sentiment

Dealer sentiment on current conditions edged down slightly to 83 from 85 in September and 87 in August, and the 3- to 5-year outlook dropped to 64 after spiking in September at 70; the August reading was 59, possibly reflecting respondents’ uncertainty around the pandemic and rising Covid-19 cases around the country.

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

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