Dealer sentiment dropped significantly in February from January but remained positive.
Long-term dealer sentiment dropped sharply last month, with the index dipping 11 points to 70 in February versus 81 in January.
Dealers said insufficient manufacturer promotions, product shortages, and too few affordable boats to draw new boaters were factoring into their decrease in long-term confidence.
The dealer sentiment readings, which are gleaned from a survey performed by Trade Only Today, Baird and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, range from 0-100, with 50 providing a neutral outlook.
“We need to make boating more [affordable] to young people,” said one dealer in the comments.
“The industry needs a true entry-level boat,” wrote another. “Something that is significantly less than $45,000.”
Another dealer pointed to “weak promotions [and] product shortages for both boats and motors,” as being hindrances to business.
The short-term index also dropped from 82 in January to 79 in February and accompanied drastically mixed commentary on how dealers felt they did in the winter boat shows.
Dealers had generally strong momentum following winter boat shows, with 70 percent reporting momentum was at least “somewhat strong.” No dealers reported that business has slowed coming out of winter boat shows, and only 22 percent said they saw minimal momentum emerging from the shows; just 8 percent said they saw zero momentum.
Comments about winter show season, however, tended to vary drastically; many said traffic was up and that they had their best show ever, while others said people were more hesitant to buy this winter.
“One of the best shows since the recession,” one dealer commented. Another said: “Good push for already robust market.”
“Show was good. Units were down slightly but average selling price was significantly higher,” said one dealer, echoing what several have said about consumer trends.
Several cited bad weather for show slowdowns, while others blamed the stock market.
“Strong demand, unit sales price down year-over-year due to introduction of new pontoon line,” one dealer wrote. “Stock market crash happened the week before boat show, could have had an impact. Momentum good, and solid pipeline.”
“Cautiously optimistic,” said one dealer. “Political instability offsets some of the tax cuts and market movement.”