Boat Dealers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 3,500 boat dealers in the US sell new and used boats and related products and services. Related products and services include motors, parts, and accessories; parts and labor for maintenance or repair work; and motorized sports vehicles (ATVs, snowmobiles). Dealers may also facilitate financing, offer slip and storage facilities, provide boat brokerage services, or offer extended service contracts.

Seasonal Sales

The boating industry is highly seasonal and sales peak during the summer, when weather is conducive to water-related activity.

Dependence on Credit

Both dealers and boat buyers depend on access to credit to fund purchases.

Industry size & Structure

The average boat dealer operates out of a single location, employs fewer than 20 workers, and generates about $4-5 million annually.

    • The boat dealer industry consists of about 3,500 companies that employ about 34,300 workers and generate about $15 billion annually.
    • The industry is fragmented; the top 50 firms account for 31% of industry sales.
    • Large companies include West Marine and MarineMax.
    • The majority of the recreational boating industry involves the use of small boats (26 feet or less in size).
    • Pre-owned boats accounted for almost 79% of all boat sales in 2021.
                                Industry Forecast
                                Boat Dealers Industry Growth
                                Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                Recent Developments

                                Mar 15, 2024 - Labor Costs Up, Producer Prices Down
                                • According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), producer prices for boat dealers decreased by 21% in December 2023 compared to December 2022, reaching their lowest point in the fourth quarter of 2023. When compared to December 2019, producer prices have fallen almost 4%. Although employment levels were mostly unchanged in December 2023 from the previous year, the employment levels for motorcycles, boats, and other vehicle dealers have increased by nearly 7% since pre-pandemic figures, due in part to the rising popularity of boating during the pandemic. Per the BLS, wages for other motor vehicle dealers, including boat dealers, rose 6% in December 2023 compared to the previous year and 30% compared to 2019. Additionally, consumer spending levels increased in the last half of 2023, a 3.1% rise in the third quarter and a 2.8% increase in the fourth quarter, according to Reuters.
                                • According to a recent ConsumerSignals survey by Deloitte, more discretionary categories, including recreation and entertainment, leisure travel, restaurants, and electronics, represented an estimated 22% share of consumer’s wallets in January, up slightly from a year ago. According to the Spending Intentions index, global total spending intentions remained consistent in January compared to December and were significantly higher than a year ago. Spending intentions have gradually returned to their 2021 levels after inflation stunted global spending confidence. The survey also revealed that over 60% of survey respondents reported their finances had either remained the same or improved in the past year, up from 58% a year ago.
                                • The worldwide leisure boat industry was valued at $43 billion in 2023 and is forecast to experience growth of a CAGR of 5.3% in 2024 to reach $45.3 billion, according to the Business Research Company. Industry sales are expected to see an average annual growth of 5.7% between 2023 and 2028, reaching a value of more than $56 billion. Leisure boat sales growth during the forecast period will be aided by an expansion of emerging markets, consumer preferences for water-based activities, an expanding tourism sector, and the ongoing development of boating infrastructure. Trends in the market include eco-friendly designs, the growing popularity of electric and hybrid boats, customization and personalization of boats, and boat connectivity and technological integration.
                                • Consumer confidence levels fell in February 2024 after increasing for three consecutive months, according to data from The Conference Board. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 106.7 in February 2024 from 110.9 in January 2024. According to Dana Peterson, Chief Economist at The Conference Board, “The decline in consumer confidence in February interrupted a three-month rise, reflecting persistent uncertainty about the US economy. The drop in confidence was broad-based, affecting all income groups except households earning less than $15,000 and those earning more than $125,000.” Peterson added that the decline in consumer confidence was largest in householders over 55 and those under 35. Plans to purchase homes, autos, and large appliances decreased slightly on a six-month basis.
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