Wednesday, December 1

Let The Good Times Roll

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The big Lauderdale show is now in the rear-view mirror, and it seems that things couldn’t be better.

As usual, the bigger the better. Indeed, one broker at the superyacht part of the show over at Pier 66 (pictured above) said he was seeing a billionaire every few minutes. But the good news spread down the line.

Brunswick, for example, said it had “record-breaking performance” at the show; Boston Whaler reported a 35 percent increase in revenue over the past year, while Sea Ray had 30 percent. David Foulkes, the Brunswick CEO, said the Lauderdale show “sets the tone for the U.S. fall boat show season and is a good indicator of consumer sentiment carrying into the following year.” But even at Brunswick, with all its brands of medium- and small-boats, Foulkes said that the demand for premium brands set the pace.

That theme was echoed by Mike Busacca, the CEO of Fraser Yachts, who told a press conference that brokerage sales and charters were up 58 percent last year. The largest increase was in the 80- to 115-foot segment, where sales were up 80 percent, and 40 percent of the sales were to first-time buyers.

The pandemic, of course, fueled sales of new and brokerage boats of all shapes and sizes. And those sales depleted inventories, also across the board.

If you’re looking for a good brokerage boat today, well, good luck. And if you want a new one, you may have to wait a while.

The inventory problem is made worse by the world-wide supply chain holdup. Manufacturers can’t get parts, and they have shortages of everything from computer chips to galley appliances.

Those problem probably won’t end soon. “Raw demand is tremendously strong,” Foulkes told Jim Kramer on his Mad Money show. “What we’re seeing is constrained supply.” But he added that “it’s probably going to be three years before we really get field inventory levels back to where they should be.”

The consequences of inventory shortages and supply-chain problems are already showing up. Earlier this week, Statistical Surveys, a Michigan firm that tracks new boat registrations, said that the entire powerboat segment was down 26 percent in September, compared to September a year ago. The decline was across the board, from aluminum fishing boats to cruising boats and yachts.

The numbers were artificially high last year, of course, because of the pandemic. But the shortage of available boats now, new or used, only drives up prices that already are subject to rising across-the-board inflation.

But there’s a good-news message here. If you already have your boat (and I think that most of you reading this fall in that category), keep it. Use it. Enjoy it. Make sure it stays in good shape. Then it can be your friend for a very long time.
























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