The last couple of years have been unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. COVID’s impact on both individuals and industries has been massive, which no one could have predicted back in 2019. Nonetheless, we’ve all persisted and are slowly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!
With Australia’s borders closed in March of 2020, many began to panic, saving money and selling assets to prepare for the worst. Others found workloads increased; a trend which continued throughout the year. Even with international trips off the cards, the desire to travel wasn’t lost amongst Aussies, so they began to look at exploring their own backyard. This led to a massive upswing in the sales of new and used 4WDs, caravans, boats and camper trailers; and of course, all the accompanying gadgets and accessories. With many working from home, adventurers had plenty of time to do their research online and save their hard earned. Used car prices shot through the roof, and waiting lists for new cars grew longer and longer. Boats were no different. Previously, some boats could be built and delivered within a matter of weeks; quickly these wait times stretched to many months, even years in some cases. As lockdowns took over around the world, supply began to become an issue. Factories closed, and parts became harder to source due to both supply and demand, which further stretched wait times. Factories and workshops such as ours, were already at full capacity with staff working long hours to finish builds, and as soon as a worker had to isolate, that created a further delay. Thankfully our workshop was classed as an essential service throughout 2020 and 2021, meaning we were still able to complete services and work on new boat fit outs.
The main issues in recent months (which seem to be reflected across many industries) are part supply issues and staff shortages. Previously, items such as sounders, EPIRBS, flares and outboard parts could be on the boat within a couple of days of ordering; at times we now had to wait several months for these items which isn’t ideal when you’ve got a keen customer with a 95% completed boat waiting for three items! Similarly to boats, often these delays have been due to small component shortages; such as a circuit board, or a lifejacket in a safety kit. With the number of boats on the water rapidly increasing, and many new boaters taking to the water, there’s been ever-growing numbers of motors requiring servicing. This has led to workshops becoming booked out for months, or even being unable to do a job at all. New motor shortages have also been an issue; some businesses have stopped all re-powers, with every single one of their new motors going onto new boats. Motors have had to have been ordered many months in advance; even then, there’s still a possibility it may arrive too late. This is the case for both four stroke and electric trolling motors with massive delays on both.
COVID unfortunately has also brought price increases across many products, due to raw material price rises. Aluminium has dramatically increased in price, depending on who you talk to, between 20-100%, due to increased demand worldwide and supply shortages. Of course, this then in turn affects aluminium built products, including boats and trailers. Our brands including Seacruiser, Stabicraft and Quintrex, have all had to update pricing to reflect raw material costs. Thankfully, we’ve been able to work around all these problems and the marine industry in Australia has never been stronger.
On the fishing side of things, thankfully we haven’t had any fishing bans as we saw in 2020. Online orders became the only option during lockdowns and quite a few tackle stores just weren’t able to stay afloat. The Tackle Shack received a bit of renovation work during the 2021 lockdowns, to prepare for a big summer ahead. Stock shortages also affected the fishing industry, with long delays on a wide range of products. Even locally made products such as some of our skirted tuna lures, faced long wait times due to materials sourced overseas.
Let’s hope things begin to ease a little soon, and while it’s certainly great to have so many people eager to jump in a new boat, we would love to have some quicker freight times and less delays on products throughout 2022!