More than half of dealers responding to a survey about May conditions, 51 percent, said they saw declines rather than growth in new boat sales (28 percent), the first negative month of 2019 — however, this month's pool of respondents was smaller than average.
Weather, followed by government action and/or inaction, was the top reason cited for declines as the Trump administration threatened Mexico with tariffs as a way to stem the flow of immigrants across the border.
"Pre-season and boat show sales were down this year,” wrote one dealer respondent. “It is unclear to us exactly why that is, but we believe it is partially a result of financial instability due to questions about taxes and the economy."
The current outlook from dealers was 40, versus 58 in April, and the three- to five-year outlook was 39, versus 45 last month, according to results of the monthly Pulse Report, which is performed by Baird in conjunction with the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Soundings Trade Only.
“Dealers of all kinds look to be fat with inventory,” wrote one retailer. “If there are pockets of growth and shortages of product they must be where the extremely wealthy reside.”
Dealers were mixed on weather tax season helped or hindered sales, with 32 percent reporting no impact and another 22 percent saying they were unsure whether it had helped. Twenty percent said tax reform had a negative impact, versus 27 percent who thought it was positive.
“Middle class was hurt, not helped, by the new tax changes,” commented one dealer. Other dealers said any tax benefits were offset by price increases.
“Pre-season and boat show sales were down this year,” wrote another dealer. “It is unclear to us exactly why that is, but we believe it is partially a result of financial instability due to questions about taxes and the economy.”
Others pointed to instability in the government and tariffs as reasons for declining optimism.
The weather metric matched its lowest reading in April 2014.
“Weather and high water since winter means no foot traffic,” said one dealer.