A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Looking forward to the spring thaw

We all know this old chestnut from Mark Twain: “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.” This year, a “few minutes” only seemed to make things colder.

I think a lot of folks from the Midwest to the Northeast and plenty of places in between are ready for winter to pack up and leave town, and for nice, warm spring weather to emerge.

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Good weather is good for the boat business. A cold, damp spring — like the one many of us experienced last year — not so much. NMMA president Thom Dammrich says last spring hurt business.

With warmer, drier weather, the industry might have been up another 2 or 3 percent, perhaps more, Dammrich told me Tuesday. “Weather has an impact, no doubt about it,” he said.

Dammrich made that point during his presentation at the industry breakfast at the Miami International Boat Show last month. He showed a slide that summed up two significant risks to growth: Washington and the weather.

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“Weather is one of our industry’s biggest threats,” he told the audience. As cold and entrenched as this winter has been, Dammrich said Tuesday, “I don’t think weather has hurt us yet. The boat shows have been really strong.”

But he did note that spring weather was probably a better predictor of growth for the coming year than even strong winter shows.

At the breakfast, Dammrich — tongue in cheek — showed three slides depicting the weather forecast for winter, spring and summer, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. Its forecast for winter was “right on the money,” Dammrich said. The slides shown here suggest good boating weather for much of the country once the spring thaw takes hold.

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“If they are right for spring and summer,” Dammrich said, “we’ll have a gangbuster season.”

With good weather, we may see 5 to 7 percent growth in unit sales and 8 to 11 percent in dollars this year, Dammrich said.

Everyone I know is rooting for spring.

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