The 70th annual Miami International Boat Show closed yesterday, and although the official numbers aren’t out, there seemed to be increased attendance and a positive energy throughout the four venues of the show. Even during set up, the show seemed a bit more lively. Here we are dodging forklifts on Wednesday before the show, looking for Innovation Awards entrants to tell us about their innovations. It's less than glamorous but the winners, that I published on Friday, were impressive.
Walking around the convention centre once the show opened, I found good foot traffic by attendees and positive comments from every exhibitor I spoke with. Perhaps the tone was set by the president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Thom Dammrich, who had some facts and figures to share during his state of the industry breakfast speech on opening day.
According to Dammrich, the worst is behind us and boating as a whole, is poised to grow 10-15% in 2011. That said, even at its peak in 2006, the boating market hadn’t broken the $40 billion mark and it’s expected to be closer to $30-32 billion this year. The really telling statistic however, is that in the mid-eighties, 500,000 powerboats sold at retail (in one year). The 2010 estimate is closer to 137,000 units. Granted, that only takes into account a portion of the boating industry, but the biggest portion by far.
Used boats have been about the only thing really selling in 2009- 2010. In fact, traditionally, used boats have made up about 70% of total boats sold and new about 30%. Those numbers have changed with new boats making up less than 20% and used vessels moving up to over 80%. At least people are still boating.
Dammrich pointed out some benchmarks that indicate positive movement ahead. With improving consumer confidence and the increased desire to spend rather than save, demand is expected to be up just as dealer inventories are depleted so new orders should stimulate boat builders into action. Late model new boats aren’t available because they weren’t built in the last two years so consumers wanting the latest will have to buy the newest. Also, auto and RV sales are rising and the inventories of used boats are down so new boats are likely to start moving this spring.
The Miami show this year had over 2,000 exhibitors showing over 2,500 boats. With Strictly Sail back at their Bayside location, the show had a much healthier vibe which hopefully indicates a stronger boating summer season to come.