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 9-10 workers, and generates about $4-5 million annually.

    • The boat dealer industry consists of about 3,500 companies that employ about 34,200 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

                                Nov 15, 2022 - Women Anglers Represent Opportunity
                                • Growing participation among women in recreational fishing and their outsized influence on family participation in the sport represents an opportunity for boat dealers, Trade Only reported in November. The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s 2022 Special Report on Fishing found some 19.4 million women went fishing in 2021, up significantly over 2019 and the highest number since participation tracking began five years ago. Moreover, women in 2021 made up 37% of total fishing participation, the highest level on record. Women were also found to be more likely to introduce their children to fishing than men. Boat dealers who cater to the large and growing population of female anglers can potentially boost their long-term boat sales, according to Trade Only, which recommends that dealerships develop gender-aimed initiatives.
                                • Fishing tops the list of the most popular uses for recreational boats and will drive a projected rise in fishing boat sales in 2023, according to Linchpin’s list of Boating Industry Trends Shaping 2023. Fishing boat sales, a major category for recreational boat sales, are projected to increase 2% in 2023 over 2019 to approximately 285,900 boats. By comparison, fishing-boat sales were up 10.3% in 2020, the highest annual total since 2007, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Fishing-related accessories, such as motors and depth finders, are also projected to be popular according to Linchpin’s Trends Shaping 2023 list.
                                • Manufacturing declined in September 2022 for the first time since June 2020, as boat builders continued to grapple with economic and geopolitical uncertainties, in addition to lingering supply chain and workforce challenges, according to Trade Only Today. While marine manufacturers still have strong order books, US-based powerboat builder Correct Craft’s CEO Bill Yeargin said there are signs of a potential downturn next year. "Besides the macroeconomic concerns, there are several industry-specific signs of a potential downturn. In addition to year-over-year declines in the sales of every boating segment, web analytics indicate a downturn in the number of people searching for information about buying a new boat.” Yeargin warned boat manufacturers not to be lulled into inaction by low dealer inventories, but to look ahead and ensure their production levels are properly set for this environment.
                                • More boat dealers reported retail sales declines (51%) than growth (20%) in August 2022, amid growing reluctance of consumers to purchase new or used boats, according to Baird Equity Research. Inventory is seen as contracting, considered a positive sign amid inflation and rising interest rates. Of dealers contacted by Baird, 55% reported that new boat inventory is "too low," and just 22% reported "too high," an improvement from July’s figures. Used inventory also remains sparse, with 61% of dealers reporting used inventory is "too low" and just 12% reported "too high." Dealer sentiment regarding both current conditions and the 3-to-5 year outlook remains negative, with sentiment on current conditions falling from July (35 vs. 42) and the 3-to-5 year outlook flat, according to the Baird research report.
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