Boat Sales Point to Economy on a Comeback

Detroit’s Boat Show once again showed the region’s optimism and evidence of a rebounding area and national economy.

Attendance to the 54th annual event at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit was up 1.2 percent from last year, according to the Michigan Boating Industry Association, which puts on the show. The Feb. 11-19 event brought in 62,970 people. Boat sales were also up at the show and organizers said space sales for exhibitors grew 25 percent this year. That trend may put them on a track to add show space in 2013.

“If things keep moving in the right direction and with a little help, we will be positioned to take on another hall at Cobo Center next year -¦,” show manager John Ropp stated in a report posted by Soundings Trade Only, a marine industry trade source.

It’s much a barometer of discretionary spending. In Metro Detroit, for example, home to General Motors Corp., Chrysler Group LLC and Ford Motor Co., profit sharing checks -“ for some reaching a few thousand dollars -“ helped cushion wallets of workers for the first time from all three automakers since 2004.

And it’s not just the region that is improving.’s Bellwether Report on boat sales of 15 feet or longer this year surpassed February 2006 levels for the first time. And when you compare growth since July 2009 with January 2012, sales are up about 40 percent. July 2009 was the first summer after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy.

The Bellwether Reports each month update new boat sales from the nation’s leading markets such as Florida, Texas, California, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and several others. The sampling closely correlates with the rest of the market and provides an indication of how U.S. boating sales will perform nationally, according to  The Bellwether report and associated graphic items can be found on the site.