Things are looking up…

Peter Nash is editor of Boating Business

We generally accept the UK follows the USA in most things, including economic trends. So if what’s happening right now in the USA will be paralleled over here, I reckon we can start looking for things to start getting better over here.

The recession hit the US boatbuilding industry hard. With households making up about 50% of the industry's customers, the broader economic problems plaguing the US reduced the amount of money consumers were willing to spend on luxury items.

Heightened unemployment and reduced consumer sentiment caused demand for boats to plummet, even though the industry attempted to make dramatic changes to operations. Companies slashed production and operating costs, but the US industry revenue declined an average of 7% every year in the five years to 2013.

All these details come from a report by IBISWorld. And the report goes on to explain the US has seen economic recovery taking hold recently. As a result, disposable incomes are growing and this has, in turn, driven demand for boats.

IBISWorld expects the US recreational marine industry to generate $6.9 billion in revenue in 2013, up 3.7% from 2012.

So what’s happening over here? It seems people have started spending, which is Very Encouraging.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), May retail sales grew by 3.4% over the previous year, in spite of the strange weather we’ve been experiencing.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, says customers are still price conscious, but responding well to good deals, especially for big ticket items.

As I write, there’s an increase in new jobs which has got SMEs very optimistic and economists upgrading their forecasts for growth this year. At the same time, the number of people in employment rose 24,000 in the three months to April after two months of decline.

And I hear the British Motor Yacht Show at Swanwick in May, which got Fairline, Princess and Sunseeker sales all working together, was a great success and likely to be repeated around the country.

Dare we venture to suggest there may be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel? Please don’t tell me it’s a train coming the other way...

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