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Fabric suppliers see the marine market in a severe downturn because of the weakening U.S. and world economy, as well as cautious customer purchasing for the remainder of 2009. Until the economy does rebound, the OEM market segment will be sluggish. Price-conscious marine fabricators will continue to seek less expensive imported fabrics. This continued influx of imports (not just from Asia) will erode market shares for the market leaders. If the weather is warmer and sunnier in 2009, the marine fabric market may still face decreases, but not as much as in 2008.
Marine fabricators see the market slowly coming back if the economy begins to improve in 2009. The current slump in boat sales will change how they market their products and services. There will be more use of the Internet, discounting of prices, increasing advertising budgets, and increasing product features as they relate to sustainability trends. Technology will continue to improve, particularly in stitching and hot and dielectric welding. Fabricators see raw material prices remaining high compared to the past (before 2007). Like fabric manufacturers, they see more fabric being sourced outside of the U.S. They also feel that their industry will continue to have a hard time finding skilled craftspeople for custom work.
From the 2009 State of the Industry Report. Purchase a complete report at the IFAI Bookstore.