Dealers expect higher prices on aluminum products

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Weather was the main negative impact on boat sales; OEM promotions, the economy and access to credit helped facilitate them.

Weather was the main negative impact on boat sales; OEM promotions, the economy and access to credit helped facilitate them.

Dealers overwhelmingly expect to see prices to rise on aluminum products in the wake of tariffs, with only 4 percent of respondents to a recent survey saying they think prices will remain the same.

Forty-six percent think prices of pontoons, aluminum fishing boats, trailers, and other aluminum products will rise between 5 and 10 percent, and 37 percent thought the increase would be less than 5 percent.

Twelve percent expected prices to increase more than 10 percent.

Weather remained a drag on demand as cool and rainy weather continued throughout much of the country in May.

“Poor weather having an impact on all facets of our business,” wrote one dealer that responded to the monthly Pulse Report conducted by Robert W. Baird in conjunction with the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Soundings Trade Only.

“No urgency, customers delaying using boats, not a lot of fun delivering new boats in 50-degree weather,” the dealer said.

Still, short-term dealer sentiment remained strong at 72, though it dropped from 76 in April. The 3- to 5-year outlook also improved for the second month in a row at 74 versus 72 in April and 64 in March.

Dealers said trade-in activity and government action/inaction created minor headwinds to demand, while the economy, access to credit and OEM promotions all helped spur demand.

Many dealers indicated in the comments section that pontoons, aluminum fishing and surf boats were selling.

Several said fiberglass sales had been slow, as had smaller boats. Two dealers referenced losing sales of Sea Rays.

“Great core group of employees who are pushing through our tough times with Sea Ray being for sale,” said one dealer.

Another had a less positive view, saying: “Sea Ray being for sale is KILLING us as a dealer. No leads on mid-big boats and no new Sea Ray sales.”

Others mentioned workforce shortages as being a struggle, and several said they were taking a beating on warranty and long lead times on product.

“Consumers are becoming weary of hearing about late delivery times on new boats and shortages of motors and other components for their orders,” wrote one dealer.

“Quality of product being delivered to us by manufacturers is the worst I have seen in many years,” wrote another dealer. “We are getting killed with warranty issues both big and small, regardless of the brand.”

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