Boating Industry

February 2014

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MONTHLY RESEARCH Pontoons, outboards expected to lead 2014 growth Survey shows readers expect increases in most segments BY JONATHAN SWEET The boating industry should continue to grow in most categories next year, but pontoons and outboards look to be particularly strong. That's according to the latest monthly survey of Boating Industry readers. We surveyed dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and others in December to get their views on the outlook for 2014 in what will be a recurring feature in Boating Industry. We also asked respondents to identify their primary business. For simplicity's sake we've divided them into two groups of "dealers" (boat and engine dealers, marinas, boatyards and other retailers) and "manufacturers" (manufacturers, suppliers, service providers, distributors, etc.). The same old song Just as they have the last several years, survey respondents expect outboards to be the propulsion of choice again in 2014. More than three-quarters of BI readers predicted industry-wide sales growth for the segment this year – and 25 percent said sales should grow by more than 10 percent. That would be even better than 2013 will probably end, as outboard unit sales were up 8.8 percent nationwide year-over-year through September, according to the latest figures from Info-Link. 12 | Boating Industry | February 2014 P12x15-BI14FEB-MonthlyResearch-dv.indd 12 Only 5 percent think outboard sales will be down this year. (For more on the outboard market, be sure to check out this month's Market Trends article on p. 32.) The industry seems to be much less optimistic about other propulsion segments. It's no secret that sterndrive sales have continued to BOATING INDUSTRY INDEX In our new recurring feature, we'll be tracking the optimism of Boating Industry readers to help us get a read on the industry. A reading of zero means equal numbers of people expect growth as do contraction, so any number above zero is a positive. CURRENT CONDITIONS FUTURE EXPECTATION December 49.6 November 47.8 December 58.6 November N/A struggle, with units down 7.8 percent through September 2013, according to Info-Link. And that was on top of multiple years of doubledigit declines to close out the last decade. With that in mind, it's probably not surprising that only 24 percent of respondents expect sales growth in sterndrive engines this year. It's the smallest group expecting sales increases of any segment and the only segment where more expect a decline (26 percent) than an increase. While not on par with the 77 percent calling for an increase in outboard sales, more than 36 percent do expect a sales increase in inboards this year. That follows an impressive 12.7 percent growth in unit sales for 2013 as the ski and watersport segments stayed strong. About 21 percent expect to see inboard sales decline this year. As for non-powered boats, 26 percent are calling for an increase in sales and only 19 percent predicting a decline in 2014. Dealers and manufacturers are fairly uniform on their views for the outboard, inboard sterndrive and sail segments, but there's definitely a difference of opinion on the outlook for jet power in 2014 – for both jet boats and personal watercraft. For both of those segments, the manufacturer side of the industry is much more optimistic about the potential for growth. Forty-three percent of manufacturers expect the jet boat segment to be up in 2014. That's 1/8/14 12:14 PM

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