The election is settled and Thanksgiving is behind us. It's the season to be jolly. And jolly it might be if we look at encouraging reports of positive economic activity and consumer attitudes.
In a nutshell, home prices are on the rise, consumers are reportedly in a spending mood, there’s a lot less angst about the job market and companies are ordering more equipment. Those are trends that will spur economic growth in this last quarter and, even better for us, give a boost to the first quarter of 2013. The timing of all this positive news couldn’t be better as our industry’s winter boat show circuit will take place in the first quarter. Compared to a year ago, the picture is so much better.
According to the National Retail Federation, a record number of people visited stores or shopped on the Internet during the Thanksgiving holiday. They spent an average of $423, up from $398 last year. Moreover, online sales reportedly increased 30.3 percent on so-called Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day ever.
Notwithstanding a failure of President Obama and Congress to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that could screw everything up, here’s the optimism we should be reflecting in our stores daily:
• The consumer confidence index rose to 73.7 in November, up from 73.1 the previous month. It’s the highest reading since February 2008. And it’s a long way up from the all-time low of 25.3 hit in February 2009. History tells us confidence and boat sales virtually always run parallel.
• For the sixth consecutive month, home prices were up, confirming the housing market continues on its recovery path. Home prices gained 3.6 percent in the July-September quarter from the same period in 2011. In the last 12 months, home prices have increased in 18 of 20 cities studied.
• There’s equally good news on the new-home construction front, also up 3.6 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 894,000 units. That’s the highest since July 2008, says the Department of Commerce. Nationally, new home starts are up 42 percent over last year. Recovery in housing is a precursor to increased boat sales.
• Orders for core capital goods rose 1.7 percent in October, according to the Commerce Department. It’s the largest increase since May. Capital goods orders are considered a proxy for business investment.
When it comes to optimism, no one preached it importance more than world renowned motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, who I’m sad to report, died Wednesday at the age of 86. I had several opportunities to hear Ziglar. I remember him telling us on one occasion that success is all about our attitude. The person who will always succeed is the optimist, Ziglar stressed. He’s the person who shows up for work every day like a guy who goes fishing for a giant fish in a tiny dingy carrying his jar of tartar sauce.
Good advice for us all.