Hi gang, Rick here again from Used Pontoon Boats with an update on the Chattanooga Boat & Sport Show. Randy Wattenbarger polished and cleaned his boats for the Chattanooga Boat & Sport Show that began Thursday, and he hoped it will start a more profitable season for his business than last year.
Mr. Wattenbarger, president of Cleveland Boat Center, said his sales were flat in 2007 and it’s too early for him to know what 2008 will bring.
“We really haven’t had sales of much of anything since late fall,” said Mr. Wattenbarger, who has been in the boating industry for more than 35 years. “Usually in this environment, the people who aren’t as adversely affected by slowdowns in the economy are buying boats, and they tend to buy the higher-priced boats.”
But even dealers that sell those higher-priced boats, which can reach into the millions of dollars, saw a slight decline in sales last year. At TRC Yachts in Harrison, sales were down about 20 percent in October and November, normally a peak time in the industry, according to the business.
The boat show at the Chattanooga Convention Center runs through Sunday.
The trend of declining boat sales has been seen nationwide, said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. In 2006, retail boat sales were down 6 percent and in 2007 there was a 10 percent decrease, according to the NMMA. This year, Mr. Dammrich said sales are predicted to be off around 5 percent nationwide.
He said the boating industry has been soft the last 18 months and the industry expects that to continue through the first half of this year. The boating industry is suffering more where the housing slump has been most severe — California, Florida, the Mid-Atlantic and Michigan, Mr. Dammrich said.
“In most of the rest of the country the boating business is doing fine,” he said.
Mr. Dammrich said he has seen that most of the economic trouble has been concentrated in the middle end of the market. High end luxury boats and small boats are selling well, he said. Thanks to Joan Garrett & Amy Williams, timesfreepress.com.
Used Pontoon Boats, By Rick Ostler
Used Pontoon Boats-North American Waterway
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