Quarantined on the boat?

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MarineMax’s recent Galeon gala in the Keys drew 25 percent more participants than last year.

MarineMax’s recent Galeon gala in the Keys drew 25 percent more participants than last year.

On Monday, a 7 percent stock market plunge triggered a “circuit breaker” on Wall Street, pausing trading for 15 minutes for the first time since 2008; the day finished 2,000 points down.

The same day, MarineMax got around double the number of serious leads online as a typical day, said MarineMax chief revenue officer Chuck Cashman.

“The market crashed, we’re panicking, and we just asked question, ‘What was online lead traffic today?’ and marketing came back and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, it was dramatically up,’” Cashman told Trade Only Today. “I don’t know why. You can make some assumptions.”

A typical solid lead day would bring around 100 qualified leads — that is, inquiries on specific boats the company has in its inventory — and Monday it had over 200.

“Right now the world is trending away from interacting,” said Cashman. “But getting out and anchoring in a cove … you’re in your own little world, so that doesn’t change, corona or not.”

The company’s online push has been very well-timed for today’s concerns of a pandemic, says Cashman.

“We’ve been working on our online presence hard for a year, trying to make it easier for people to shop from their house,” said Cashman. “I’ve got the framework and the mechanism and have people literally standing by to do a live video walkthrough on a boat.”

Brunswick boat dealers had not seen a reduction in store traffic or retail sales due to the coronavirus as of Tuesday, Brunswick CEO David Foulkes said during a meeting with BMO Capital Markets investors and analysts. Dealers also hadn’t experienced any cancellation of orders, according to a note from BMO Capital analyst Gerrick Johnson.

Groupe Beneteau issued a statement on Wednesday letting investors know that the pandemic’s impact on the company’s commercial activity had been “marginal.”

“For the boat business, the main boat shows in the northern hemisphere (Europe and North America) – areas where the group generates 80 percent of its boat revenues – were all held during the first half of this financial year,” said a statement. “With regard to supplies from countries affected by the Covid-19 epidemic (China and Italy), the group has not experienced any shortages and is even seeing production start up again at the Chinese facilities concerned. The current delays in the supply chain will be resolved by arranging air transport.”

MarineMax has not only seen an increase in sales leads, it has seen increased traffic at gatherings designed to keep customers using their boats.

Attendance at the Galeon gala was up 25 percent over last year, though Cashman acknowledged that brand is also growing its U.S. presence. An upcoming Azimut gala in the Keys slated for mid-April had higher registration last month than the entire event last year.

“I think boating offers a wonderful release; you can go with family, or bring friends if you like,” said Cashman. “If you want to stay isolated with your family and get out on your boat, you can. If I have to be quarantined, let me be quarantined on our boat.”

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