Boat sales uptick occurs in storm-ravaged states

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Giant storms might not help new-boat sales, but data show that they don’t deter them, either — in fact, storm-ravaged states have actually seen an uptick in new-boat sales, compared with the rest of the country, during the year following storm destruction.

That’s according to data compiled by Jack Ellis, managing director at Info-Link, a Miami-based firm that tracks market data for the marine industry.

Info-Link took several hurricane landfalls during the last 13 years and looked at the possible effect on new recreational boat sales the following season.

“In order to make this determination we took the states that were impacted by a storm and compared the following season’s change in year-over-year sales with the rest of the country,” Ellis told Soundings Trade Only in an email. “In almost every case states impacted by hurricanes experienced a relative increase in new-boat sales, compared to the rest of the United States.”

Ellis was clear in interpreting the results.

“Our findings do not prove that hurricanes are good for an impacted area, primarily because there are many other factors that could impact sales, but I think anyone who looks at this information would agree that hurricanes are not a bad thing when it comes to new-boat sales,” Ellis said. “Things seem to return to normal as soon as the following season. I guess the winter erases most people’s memories.”

Ellis is the first to admit that there are “a half-dozen ways to shoot holes in this methodology.” For instance, there may have been other factors affecting sales both near the hurricane or storm landfall, as well as nationwide.

Also, one could argue that including the entire state does not make sense since interior regions may have been spared.

“However, one thing is clear: The hurricanes did not have a negative impact on boat sales in these areas,” Ellis said. “Whether we look at sales after one year or five, all of the hurricane-impacted areas have done fine despite being devastated by hurricanes in some cases.”

There’s no way to know how the hurricanes affected businesses such as marinas, boat yards, sail makers, engine companies, fiberglass workers and more, in addition to ancillary businesses.

“We do not have a means to measure this, but it stands to reason that anyone who is in the business of providing boat parts, salvage, services or repairs probably have plenty of business after a hurricane,” Ellis said.

— Reagan Haynes

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