Boat sales get a bounce in November

Posted on Written by Jack Atzinger

69_numbers_01Recreational boat sales typically aren’t high in November, but the industry attracted significantly more buyers this year than it did a year earlier as 2012 continued to be a year of recovery.

Sales in the main powerboat segments rose 12.3 percent for the month, to 2,748 boats, from November 2011 and they were also 12.3 percent higher industrywide, at 3,947, according to figures compiled by Ryan Kloppe, national marine sales manager at Statistical Surveys Inc.

Through November, main-segment sales are up 11.5 percent, at 118,815 boats, and industrywide sales are up 9.6 percent at 192,227. Kloppe said the year-to-date numbers show that “we’ve had a nice steady growth through 2012. I don’t know that anyone would have thought we’d have a 10 percent increase this year.”

Seeing the consistency of the 2012 gains, Kloppe said he thinks “there’s no reason we can’t continue double-digit growth in 2013” unless there is a shock to the economy.

November is traditionally the second-lowest month for volume in the industry. Sales usually represent 2 to 2.7 percent of the year’s total retail activity; December is typically the slowest month of the year.

The November sales information is based on registration data from 26 early reporting states that comprise about 64 percent of the national market.

Leading the main segment’s gains was the high-volume 11- to 40-foot outboard fiberglass category, where sales rose 19.6 percent to 1,289 boats.

“That segment is probably the most popular market,” Kloppe said. “Seeing that jump, especially in a slow month, is a benefit to the whole industry.”

Sales through November in that category are up 13.4 percent at 34,014 boats.

Aluminum pontoon and fishing boats, two consistently strong categories this year, also posted solid gains in November. Sales of pontoons rose 18.5 percent, to 307 and are up 21.1 percent for the year at 32,548. Sales of fishing boats climbed 7.5 percent to 878 for the month, and are up 9.3 percent for the year at 35,378. Kloppe called the November gains in the aluminum segments “a nice gift to the industry.”

Sales of 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive fiberglass boats rose by eight boats, or 4.2 percent, to 199. Two categories of cruisers and yachts continued to struggle, posting lower sales for the month, but the 63- to 99-foot semicustom and custom yacht category reported four more boats sold in November than it did a year earlier.

“To see that increase is a really nice surprise for the industry,” Kloppe said.

Sales in the segment — small but significant because the yachts are high-end purchases — are up by 34, or 25.4 percent, at 168 for the year through November.

Reported sales of documented vessels are complete only through Aug. 31 because of data entry delays at the Coast Guard, Kloppe said, creating an incomplete report for boats larger than 31 feet and understating the cruiser and yacht markets.

Sales of personal watercraft, ski boats and jetboats were higher for the month, although the totals reflect November’s typically reduced activity. Sales of PWC rose by 56 units to 371, sales of ski boats climbed by nine to 91 and sales of jetboats were up by 16 at 48.

Sales of sailboats rose by 18 to 78.

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