Marine Industry Grabs Hold As Boaters Buck Bad Economy, Welcomes Us to the Water
You can certainly tell that its boating season again. Even those hearty boaters up north are beginning to see a thaw in the frigid economic climate, in fact there’s more than enough water in most of the mid-west and south with the Mississippi River and tributaries at record flood levels. There’s even good news from the Government, promising lower fuel prices by Summer, If 2011 is anything like last year, we’ll be seeing record numbers of boaters hitting U.S. waterways again.
The marine industry is starting to see signs of recovery as we move past the recession,” said Jeff Malehorn, president and CEO of GE Capital’s Commercial Distribution Finance (CDF).
Now we all know that if those that hold the purse strings see fit to share some, things will most likely improve all around. Times are tough for almost everyone. Most of us working folks don’t have the funds to fly somewhere for a vacation this summer. But if you’ve got a boat, well then you’ve got a reason to be happy! Heck, last year, even as the troublesome economic times hit, millions of Americans — 75 million to be exact — found the perfect way to relax and de-stress: a weekend of boating.
Recreational Boating Tide Rises
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), recreational boating saw numbers hit a record in 2010, when 32.4 percent of American adults participated in the leisure activity. That’s the highest percentage since 1999, even as other industries sank as the recession took hold.
Supporting this trend, results from a boating habits survey conducted in late April of a 4,200 person sampling of members of the nation’s largest boat owners group, BoatU.S., revealed that 95 percent of respondents said the current economy would not stop them from using their boat this summer and 23 percent noted they would go boating more often this summer than last.
NMMA President , Thom Dammrich, likens it to “…that whole concept of a staycation. For what it costs you for one week in Disney World, you could be out on the boat every single weekend.”
The only segment of the industry that’s still not enjoying increases is new boat sales. Nationwide, 188,230 new power and sailboats were sold last year, down about 10 percent from 2009.
Used boats are still as popular as ever. There were 929,900 pre-owned boats sold in 2010, a decrease of 2.4 percent compared to 2009, a likely result of continuing pent-up demand for boats and consumers looking for lower price points in the pre-owned market, this according to NMMA’s findings from its annual Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract.
“Despite decreases in new boat sales last year, the industry remains alive and well as existing boaters took to the water in record numbers and had a willingness to spend on their boats and boating outings,” notes Dammrich.
Signs of a Recovery
Over the winter, NMMA – the largest boat show producer in the U.S., saw 70 percent increase in attendance at its 15 boat shows, an indicator that buyers were returning. Echoing these attendance increases, exhibitors at NMMA shows reported improved sales over last year, strong leads and more attendees looking to make a purchase.
Leading the way back to the water is Discover Boating, the industry’s premier PR campaign. Launched back in 2005, it is the industry’s official national public awareness effort to help Americans get started in boating. The industry credits its campaign with helping bolster boating participation in 2006, 2007 and 2008. As a result of the economic recession, Discover Boating was forced to scale back its PR efforts in 2009 and 2010.
This summer, however, the Discover Boating campaign is being re-ignited with a new theme titled “Welcome to the Water” designed to encourage the existing 75 million U.S. boaters to share their passion for boating by inviting their friends and family to the water. The campaign features a new and exciting Facebook app (their fan page has added 27,000 fans and now totals 68,245 fans as of today!), online advertising, TV, radio and of course, print ads and an inspiring new video short entitled “A Good Run.”
The report claims that the Great Lakes region has remained one of the strongest for new boat, engine, trailer, accessory and services sales in 2010 with six out of the eight Great Lakes states seeing growth and the remaining two seeing just single digit declines.
In order of sales growth:
Pennsylvania increased 11.9 percent from $202 million in 2009 to $226 million in 2010
Michigan increased 10.6 percent from $317 million in 2009 to $351 million in 2010
Ohio increased 5.5 percent from $222 million in 2009 to $235 million in 2010
New York increased 5.3 percent from $381 million in 2009 to $401 million in 2010
Illinois increased 5.2 percent from $234 million in 2009 to $246 million in 2010
Indiana increased .5 percent from $144 million in 2009 to $145 million in 2010.
The remaining two Great Lakes states: Minnesota decreased 5.5 percent from $305 million in 2009 to $289 million in 2010 and Wisconsin decreased two percent from $298 million in 2009 to $292 million in 2010.
NMMA’s Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract also shows two out of ten boaters live in the Great Lakes region which translates into nearly 17 million boaters residing in these states alone, making the Great Lakes region the top region for recreational boating in the U.S.
Link to complete abstract: http://www.nmma.org/news.aspx?id=17966