As the first half of our Boat Show season is winding down, I thought I would share my observations on the current state of the industry. In general, the outlook for the marine industry is positive. Consumers are buying, and the Boating Industry Research and Markets expects an 8.5 percent compounded annual growth over the next four years for the global marine market. Quite the projected growth!
My colleague, Jesse, likes to use subcontractors as an indicator of how the economy is fairing. He states simply, “If the subs are buying new boats, the economy is going in the right direction. If they’re selling their boats, head for the hills!” This over-simplified analysis speaks to whether or not the subcontractors have work, and right now, they are buying boats.
Most of the boat shows we have attended so far this year saw an increase in attendance. The aisles were packed and the leads were strong. The Tampa Boat Show was up over 40% attendance from last year, and even though the Miami International Boat Show was roughly flat on attendance, the quality of buyer was substantially different, with fewer and fewer tire kickers. Other shows such as the Chicago Boat Show (+13%) and the Atlanta Boat Show (+25%) did exceedingly well, with many international boat shows experiencing the same growth.
When I walk around the shows and talk to our vendor friends, I always ask how traffic has been in their area and how the show has treated them. From all of the vendors I spoke to I consistently heard variations of: “business is booming,” “Traffic is steady,” and “I’m breaking my previous show records.” All very encouraging remarks for the industry and business.
SlideMoor has had a phenomenal response this year and we too have broken all previous Boat Show records. We especially love seeing the NMMA come out with stats like powerboat retail sales are estimated to increase 6% in 2014. It’s simple logic for us; more boats, more docking needs! I look forward to our second leg of boat shows later this year and hope to see you all at the Suncoast, , Annapolis, Fort Myers, and St. Pete Boat Shows!