Michigan's Boating Industry on track for continued growth

Published online: Mar 14, 2012 News
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Livonia, Mich. - As Michigan's boating trade association prepares to move in its second boat show of 2012, the optimism from show management and exhibitors continues to rise. The Spring Boating Expo is scheduled for March 15 -18 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich. Space sales for this show are up more than 25% from 2011. Space sales, attendance and boat sales were all up at the Detroit Boat Show in February which mirrored what most other first quarter shows experienced across the country.

MBIA management feels dealers are buying more space at boat shows because more people are buying boats. Also, statistics show the demand for bigger boats is rising, so dealers are showing bigger boats, which also leads to the need for more space at boat shows. "Attendance and sales are headed in the right direction," said MBIA President John Ropp. "And consumer attitudes are greatly improved. No more grumbling about the economy - dealers are hearing serious questions, leading to serious leads."

Good news about the auto industry, improving home values and declining unemployment rates is helping build consumer confidence. Many dealers at the Detroit Boat Show had their best sales since 2008.

The Spring Boating Expo will bring more than 100 boat dealers and marine businesses together for four days at the Suburban Collection Showplace, March 15 - 18. With spring right around the corner, this a timely show for those who want to be sure to get their new boat in time for spring launch. It is also a time-saving opportunity to visit the area's best boat businesses under one roof.

According to GE Capital, the largest financing floor plan provider to US dealers - retail boat sales should continue to grow by 4-8 percent in 2012. And while 2011 saw its growth in the aluminium boat category - which means smaller fishing boats and pontoon boats - 2012 is showing a renewed interest in fiberglass boats in the 30 - 55 feet category according to GE.

Growth in the aluminium category is expected to continue growing by 12 - 16 percent in 2012 and the fiberglass market is expected to grow at the retail level by 5 - 7 percent in 2012.

The average boat age is 21 year's old and only 5 percent of the boats in use are less than 5 years old. This could result in huge sales potential in the near future. "Pent up demand is helping us," continued Ropp. "People have been holding off on discretionary purchases and are feeling better about buying. So as the economy continues to improve these fence sitters are making their long awaited purchases."

Other factors in the improving sales picture include new products, improved technologies and fuel efficiencies which are enticing people to make boat purchases as they want to enjoy the latest and greatest boating features. Lack of financing no longer is an industry worry, water levels and fishing are good, and boating continues to be an activity that allows you to spend quality time with friends and family (away from the TV, computers and video games). Michigan has no shortage of water access points with its 11,000 inland lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 3,600 miles of Great Lakes Shoreline to discover.

The Spring Boating Expo runs March 15-18 at the Suburban Collection Showplace, information, features and discount tickets can be found at www.SpringBoatingExpo.net.

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