Boat sales see double-digit gains in November

Boat sales showed surprising strength in November, rising by double digits in the main powerboat segments and industrywide during what is traditionally one of the slowest months of the year.
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Boat sales showed surprising strength in November, rising by double digits in the main powerboat segments and industrywide during what is traditionally one of the slowest months of the year.

Sales rose 15.1 percent to 3,303 in the main segments and 13.2 percent industrywide to 4,385 from the same month in 2014 in 25 states that represent about 60 percent of the U.S. market, Statistical Surveys reports.

“It’s just fantastic to see this at the end of the year,” says Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe. “It’s great to keep that momentum going.”

Sales were up 7.6 percent industrywide through November at 210,532 in the early-reporting states, keeping the industry within reach of the full-year 8 percent gain that had been forecast. Kloppe says 19 of the 25 early-reporting states showed sales gains from a year earlier.

The small-to-midsize outboard fiberglass boat segment topped sales across the industry in November with 1,548, an 8 percent gain.

The main segments’ two categories of aluminum boats had sharp sales increases. Sales of fishing boats rose 20.7 percent to 905, and sales of pontoon boats climbed 18.3 percent to 485.

Even the fiberglass sterndrive segment had a strong month. Numbers for November, typically the third-slowest month of the year, were modest, but sales of 157 of the 14- to 30-foot boats were 38 — or 31.9 percent — higher than last year.

“It’s a great sign, not only for that category but for the industry as a whole,” says Kloppe, hailing a turn toward growth in a segment that has struggled considerably as the industry recovered from Great Recession sales lows.

Sales of personal watercraft rose by 39 to 443 and ski boat and jetboat sales climbed. Ski boat sales increased by 28 boats to 140, and jetboat sales rose by 15 to 58.

Florida led the early reporting states with sales of 1,371 boats. Texas was a distant second, at 666, followed by South Carolina (287), California (259) and Arkansas (237).

The remaining states among the top 10 were North Carolina (227), Alabama (216), Michigan (199), Washington (145) and Tennessee (136).

Reports of sales of documented vessels were incomplete because of data entry delays at the Coast Guard, creating an incomplete report for boats larger than 31 feet and understating the cruiser and yacht markets.

Data available showed that sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers rose by 13 to 40. Sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts climbed by 10 to 23 and sales of 63- to 99-foot semicustom and custom yachts slipped by one to five.

Sailboat sales continued to struggle, falling by nine to 40.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue.

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