As the tide rises on local boat sales, can we also expect a rise in the local economy?
When the economy slows, boat sales slow down. The opposite is true, say many attending the 67th Annual Boat Show in Jacksonville on Saturday. When local boat sales increase, it's a good indication the local economy is also on the rise.
George Cassel of North Florida Yacht sales has been in the business for 39 years and likes what he sees with boat sales on the increase.
"It is starting to go like it did back in 2007, which was a banner year for us. It is all starting to come back. The banks are getting more lenient again, interest rates are at an all time low and I've never seen interest rates on boats as low as they are today. The manufacturers are discounting boats much further than they used to discount them. Buyers are out there today and people are taking advantage of it." George Cassel of North Florida Yacht
The 67th annual boat show, put on by the Jacksonville Marine Association, sold out of vendor space this year for the first time in several years. JMA President Rusty Gardner said people are looking to buy bigger, more expensive boats this year. For example, a Monterey yacht, listed at more than $200,000, sold 25 minutes after the boat show opened Friday morning.
"This is the first time in several years that this has happened. A lot of times they will shy away from the very expensive boats. This year they're coming to the show looking at the boats and able to afford the boats, which gives us a great indication of how we're doing economically." Rusty Gardner, Jacksonville Marine Association President
Gardner says boat sales increased by 10 percent in 2013.
Katie Bietenholt, her husband Josh and two sons Owen and Zach were among hundreds attending this year's boat show at the Prime Osborn. "We love boating," said Bientenhold. "We have a boat ourselves. We are into fishing and my husband is always looking to buy a new one. We just love to come out and see what is new, bright and shiny."