NMMA reports new-boat sales gains in 2012

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association announced today that recreational boating has an annual economic value of $121 billion, a number that includes new and used product sales, craft and trip sales and labor income.

“Everything that touches boating is a part of this study,” NMMA spokeswoman Sarah Ryser told Trade Only Today. “It’s the first time the NMMA has done something of this magnitude.”

The data showed that Americans spent more money on annual boat trips than in any other category, potentially reflecting the 6 percent increase in boating participation. They also spent more on maintenance, upkeep and parts in 2012 than on new boats, motors and trailers.

“Craft and trip” spending in the United States measured $83.8 billion, which includes new boats, motorsand trailers, accounting for $20.7 billion; used boats, motors and trailers, making up $11.74 billion; “annual craft spending,” or upkeep, parts and maintenance at $23.64 billion; and boat trip spending at $27.72 billion, Ryser said.

The industry supports 964,000 American jobs and 34,833 businesses, contributing $39.9 billion in annual labor income.

The findings were part of data collected for the annual U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, which will be released later in June.

Though they’re a small percentage of overall sales, new sailboat purchases were up 29.2 percent in 2012, giving new-boat sales a little push overall.

The NMMA had estimated that sales overall rose 10 percent in 2012 — the biggest gain seen since the recession’s onset — launching a media blitz covering the industry’s rebound. New-boat sales were actually up 10.7 percent, to 163,245, with powerboat sales rising 10 percent, to 157,300 units, and new sailboat sales jumping 29.2 percent, to 5,945.

Outboard boats are the most popular type of new powerboat sold, making up about 82 percent of the market. Small fiberglass and aluminum outboard boats 26 feet or less continued their upward climb, with an 11.3 percent increase in the number of new boats sold.

Ski and wakeboard boats also saw healthy growth, with a 13.4 percent increase in new boats sold in 2012.

Jetboats, which are small fiberglass boats of less than 26 feet, were a growing category. Of the 157,300 new powerboats sold in 2012, 4,500 were jetboats, accounting for a 36.4 percent increase.

Boating participation posted the largest increase since the NMMA began measuring it in the early 1990s, with an estimated 88 million adults boating last year. That’s up 6 percent from 83 million in 2011, Ryser said.

The NMMA is forecasting that new powerboat sales will increase an additional 5 percent in 2013.

“Summer is a peak selling season for recreational boats, accessories and services throughout the U.S. as people look for ways to disconnect from the daily grind and enjoy fun times on the water,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “New-boat sales have historically been a barometer for the U.S. economy, and the steady sales increases we’re seeing are being reinforced by the slow uptick in consumer confidence, housing and spending. As economic growth continues we anticipate sustained steady growth through the remainder of 2013.”

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— Reagan Haynes

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