Boat Sales Sinking In Sluggish Economy
Posted: May 5, 2008 07:00 PM PDT
Updated: May 6, 2008 06:58 AM PDT
GAUTIER (WLOX) -- A lot full of boats and few customers has Sales Manager Winston Harbin just trying to stay afloat at Rough Water Marine in Gautier.
"So far it's been tough, and it's going to be tough the rest of the year," Harbin said.
April through May are considered peak boat-buying months. But with two boats from 2007 still in his yard, Harbin is stuck trying to weather an economic storm.
"We've got to fight for every one right now because it's a tough economy to get through," Harbin says.
He's only sold about half of what he sold last year, and believes rising gas prices and a sinking economy are to blame. Owning a boat is a luxury, and Harbin says the initial $35,000 bill isn't the only price you'll pay for a good time.
"A good weekend can run into several hundred dollars real quick. Those red snapper out there cost more and more to catch every year it seems," Harbin said.
Sales for parts and accessories have held strong, and maintenance work keeps a steady stream of boats coming in. That's because people are fixing what they've got, instead of snagging something new off Harbin's lot.
"I still have a couple boats we need to move, but the economy makes it a tougher job to do. We just have to work harder at it," Harbin said.
Harbin hopes his 26 foot Angler will sell soon. But he won't be ordering any more this large, as long as boaters keep downsizing their dreams.
Many boaters are opting for more fuel efficient motors; one at Rough Water uses about 40 percent less fuel. People are also opting for personal watercraft like jet skis as an alternative to large boats.
By Keli Rabon