Inventory shortages continue to power a demand for marine products, with order fulfillment landing as far out as six to eight months from time of purchase.
Marine manufacturers are unable to produce at pre-pandemic levels due to a lack of employees and the inability to obtain parts and materials from their suppliers, including engines, windows, engine brackets and small parts, Mike Hanna, general manager at Dare Marina and Yacht Sales in Virginia, told Auto Finance News. The business offers boat storage and sales with locations in Norfolk and Yorktown.
“All in all, the production line is slower than what you’d like to see,” Hanna said.
Low inventory, high demand and supply shortages have created a perfect storm for elevated pricing across the powersports industry. In fact, some manufacturers have cautioned dealers to be careful when quoting 2022 model year boats as costs continue to fluctuate, Hanna said. Even with elevated pricing, underwriting criteria has not changed.
While manufacturers search for materials from non-traditional sources to control costs, there is no clear indication what supply will look like in the coming months, Joel Shoemaker, general manager of Walstrom Marine in Michigan, told AFN. As a result, further price increases are anticipated. Walstrom Marine has five sales and service locations in northern Michigan.
Meanwhile, there are no signs that demand is tapering off, even in cold weather states as winter approaches and the boating season draws to a close. “The amount of interested parties still searching for a boat remains high,” Shoemaker said.
The only saving grace for dealers in states like Michigan is the ability for manufacturers to play catch-up, he added. “We aren’t going to be using the boats during the ice months.”
With build-to-order boats taking at least six months to come in, Shoemaker is working with consumers to get boats ordered for the 2022 season.
Driven by pandemic-related shutdowns that encouraged people to seek safe outdoor activities, new powerboat sales in the U.S. reached a 13-year high in summer 2020, with 320,000 units sold. The trend continued throughout the 2021 season, according to a release by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
“We saw manufacturers’ efforts to replenish inventory provide a bump in May shipment levels, but we’re still not seeing shipment levels match the sustained demand for boats,” Ellen Bradley, senior vice president of marketing and communications for NMMA, said in the release. “Average inventory levels this year remain low, especially for high-demand categories such as personal watercraft, jet boats, saltwater fishing boats and wake sport boats. Nurturing customers is critical during this period as we work to sustain interest into 2022 and 2023.”
As the COVID-19 Delta variant brings more unknowns, it is possible consumers will continue to seek out the socially distanced experience boating allows, Hanna said. “We’ve always had plenty of inventory, sometimes too much inventory. Now we finally have demand we’ve never seen before but we can’t provide [consumers] with products or give them what they want.”
Powersports Finance Summit, the premier recreational vehicle finance event, returns October 26 in Las Vegas. The Summit is the only full-length forum for those companies involved in the financing of motorcycles, jet skis, side-by-sides, and other specialty vehicles. To learn more about the 2021 event and register, visit www.PowersportsFinance.com.