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Bump's World


Bump's World - October 2021
October 4, 2021


2021 was THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE Newport Boat Show. Last year would have been but it did not happen due to covid. It was my 41st Newport Show.

I have done a lot of boat shows but as far as shows, Newport is probably the best.

There was a reduction in boats displayed. All dealers had trouble getting new product to show since production has been slow and demand high. A couple of builders were also not willing to chance covid. A couple of builders also thought, I'm sold out over a year, why sit there telling people they cannot get a boat.

That was the big issue, no boats to deliver for summer of 2022. You have to sit on a boat for 4 days telling people there is nothing to deliver for next summer. I've never had to do that before. Yacht sales has always been a supply sided business so getting buyers was much more important than worrying about getting product.

When I started selling for Sailboats Northeast in 1979, most of the boats were in stock. I would show a Sabre 28, 30, and 32. The 28 was too small the 32 too big and the 30 was prefect. I would sell that boat I just showed and another would arrive from Sabre in about 3 weeks. Some of the larger boats would be ordered but most of the boat sales went that way. I also sold C&C Yachts and several other builders. By the mid-1980s the majority of my sales were now 35 feet and above. Some of these were in stock and some had to be ordered. The ordered boats took a few months to get so I needed to push up my selling schedule so the customers could get their boats for the summer.

The boat industry in general had this same issue. The industry began promoting customers to order their boats in the fall to get them in the spring. Newport and Annapolis became big selling shows and incentives were given to promote this. Buyers who showed up in April wanting a boat for Memorial Day were usually out of luck. It took a few years, but by 1992 most buyers understood the process and it seemed to work well for everyone. This also gave the builders more of a year round build plan rather than a panic in the spring when all the orders showed up.

Then covid arrived. The industry had no idea what the result would be? At first we were all shut down. We had no idea how long that would be?? Then things freed up a little and people came out and look and bought boats that were in stock. The factories had covid problems and their suppliers had covid problems. On top of cutting back, getting parts was also slowing things down. Many builders operated in a just in time supply chain. Which now had collapsed.

Then people started ordering boats. More boats than any time even before 2008. Now the builders have cut back staff. Have covid issues. Have more orders than ever. Delivery got pushed back and already promised delivery times were pushed back.

The gates opened for the show. Lots of people. Lots of people excited about boats. Most attendees arrived with an understanding of the dynamics that covid has presented to the boating industry. I have not seen the figures, but I would guess that the numbers will be really good. We had lots of people in the booth every day.

We did sell some boats. Reports say other dealers took orders also. I'm sure the industry will rave about the show and the sales.

Newport Boat Show 2021, 50th anniversary was a big success. Long wait times, over a year on boat deliveries. Is this the new world of boat sales or will the builders ramp up to meet demand?? The builders like being sold out since they can plan long term production much better. There is a slight inflationary monster. If I sell a boat now at todays pricing and the builder buys parts 6 or 8 months later to build the boat and the parts are now 10% more then the builder has a huge problem??

It's the new world of selling with all new problems. We will see what 2022 brings??

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Bump Wilcox