Boating Industry

January 2016

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24 | Boating Industry | January 2016 [ 2016 Industry Forecast ] Affordability, economy top concerns There are a number of potential challenges facing the industry, but affordability continues to be the top concern for Boating Industry readers. Nearly half of all respondents said they are very concerned about the challenge afford- ability poses to the industry, with 96 percent saying they were at least somewhat concerned about the issue. Thirty-two percent said they were very concerned about ethanol and the growing use of E15. About a quarter of all respondents are very concerned about competition for time and money from other activities. Demographic challenges were also a concern, although not as large as other categories. The aging buyer base was a concern for 87 percent, with 20 percent saying they were very concerned about it. The low participation rate of minorities was a concern to 62 percent of readers, and only 6 percent said they were very con- cerned about it. The lack of entry-level boaters should be one of the top issues for the industry in 2016, Houseworth said. That is refl ected in the continuing decline in sales in the runabout market. "We still are not getting entry-level boaters and that's who buys these boats," he said. "That seems to be who's missing from this equation." The categories that are performing well are not being driven by new boaters, Houseworth said, with the partial exception of pontoons, which is about 50 percent new buyers/50 per- cent current boaters. Survey respondents see overall economic conditions as having the most potential to impact their business this year, with 63 percent saying it will be very important to their suc- cess in 2016. Forty percent cited the weather as very important, while only 23 percent see government regulations as very important to their success or failure this year. REASONS FOR OPTIMISM We also asked readers what makes them optimistic about the future of the industry. While some readers responded that they had no reason to be optimistic, the majority did offer some positive insights. "New products drawing younger boaters." "I still believe people want to be on the water." "Boomers are retiring with their money and their Depression-era parents' money." "The dollar is now strong, gas prices are down and people are buying boats again." "Improvements to reliability and ease of operation." "Smart boat designs that cater to the entire family." "Fuel prices – that's what most consumers were talking about." "Boating is still the best family activity around, bar none." "Lakes are full in a lot of areas." "Surfi ng is becoming more and more popular." "Interest rates and the economy." "The product has never been better." "Boat and engine manufacturers are getting better with their quality control, thus we as dealers have less war- ranty issues and are able to sell at lower margins." "The dream that the boating lifestyle brings is very strong." "The rich are getting richer and my clients are rich." "Increasing number of working population." "OEMs are changing the types of boats they offer to be more responsive to what consumers want." Some states are faring better than others in the recovery. This map, provided by Info-Link, shows the increase in powerboat sales in each state from 2010 to 2015. "There's nothing negative happening to adversely affect boat sales in the coming year that we can see today." — Thom Dammrich POWERBOAT SALES BY STATE, 2010 VS. 2015

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