Boating Business

New Boat Inventory Report

Inventory report, Buying advice, selling advice, maintenance, Financing, Affording a Boat

The above chart of dealer sentiment relative to the amount of boats they have in inventory. As can be seen, generally, dealers are concerned about selling the boats they have in inventory, either on the lot or on order but unsold.

As results from the 2023 boat show season begin to pour in, it’s worth asking: Are we seeing a repeat of the late-twenty-teens marketplace?

Let me set the scene: It’s fall 2019, and new-unit inventory on dealership lots was at the highest levels since the Great Recession. Would dealers and manufacturers work together to reduce the amount of inventory in the field?

As you can see from the graphs, as inventory levels rose throughout 2019, dealer sentiment - MRAA’s measure of comfort levels with dealer outlooks - dipped below the neutral line into unfavorable territory for the first time since the MRAA began charting it in 2013.

Inventory, Buying advice, selling advice, maintenance, Financing, Affording a Boat

Then came January 2020, and there was a sharp blip into favorable territory on dealer sentiment. Typically, as you can see in the charts, dealer sentiment correlates closely with inventory levels. As inventories go up, sentiment declines.

As inventory levels decline, sentiment rises. But in January 2020, inventory levels were still considered far too high, so we can only connect a strong January 2020 boat show season to that rise in dealer outlooks.

Fast forward to 2023. Inventory levels have been on a steady incline since bottoming out in early to mid-2022. By December 2022, market activity had led to a noticeable downward trend in boat sales and a corresponding peak in new-unit inventory - the highest dealers have reported since April 2020.

Now, boat show season has again been a pleasant surprise for many dealers across the industry. Strong sales activity has been reported at shows in Connecticut, Minneapolis, New York and Atlanta, among others. The sales buck the broader market expectation that higher prices, higher interest rates and talk of a potential recession will deflate the boating industry’s run of success.