Boat sales top 200,000 for second straight year

Posted on Written by Jack Atzinger

Closing a year marked by modest but steady growth, the recreational boating industry topped the 200,000 mark in sales for the second year in a row in 2013 and saw a gain of nearly 6 percent in its main powerboat segments.

The industry sold 207,277 boats last year, 1.9 percent more than in 2012, including 133,044 in the main segments, Statistical Surveys said today in a report that covered all 50 states, including Illinois, where the company said it worked closely with state officials to get their data tallied and included in the national report.

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports of documented vessels, providing a complete picture of sales in the cruiser and yacht categories. Sales in those segments were higher for the year, led by a 112-boat gain among 41- to 62-foot yachts, as 903 were sold.

Click to enlarge the image.

Click to enlarge the image.

Sales in the main segments, the industry’s driver during its recovery from the Great Recession, rose 5.8 percent from 2012. On a percentage basis, aluminum pontoons led the main segments’ highest-volume categories with a 12.1 percent gain, or 4,152 boats, to 38,575. The aluminum fishing boat category was the sales leader among the main segments, at 39,172, but volume in that category increased by only 3.9 percent or 1,463.

Outboard fiberglass boats from 11 to 40 feet, another high-volume category, finished with a sales gain of 9.1 percent, or 3,217 boats, at 38,597.

“We were seeing these trends throughout the year,” Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe said of the full-year report. “They were consistent.”

Kloppe said the industry finished the year strongly with a fourth-quarter sales gain of 6.9 percent in the main segments and 4.5 percent industrywide and he expects the 2013 category leaders to continue in that role this year.

Florida led all states in sales with 21,418, a figure that was 2,687 higher than in 2012. Other states had more modest gains. Texas was second with 18,263, followed by Michigan at 11,339, Minnesota at 9,901 and Wisconsin at 9,142.

Rounding out the top 10 were New York (7,649), Louisiana (7,558), North Carolina (7,376), Alabama (6,573) and Georgia (6,324).

Kloppe said eight of the top 10 states sold more boats than they did in 2012. Louisiana sold 352 fewer boats and Alabama had 30 fewer sales.

The only category among the main segments where sales slumped was 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive boats, which have struggled despite the industry’s post-recession upturn. Sales in the category dropped 10.5 percent for the year, or 1,682 boats, to 14,262, after a 2 percent decline the previous year.

Sales of ski boats rose 11.3 percent, or 621, to 6,138, and sales of personal watercraft were 1.2 percent higher, or 449 units, at 39,350.

Kloppe said the pontoon, outboard fiberglass and PWC categories each finished the year with sales of nearly 40,000 “and we expect them to top 40,000 this year.”

Sailboat sales were 1.2 percent higher, or 31 boats, at 2,653.

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