Sales gains in categories that ranged from fiberglass outboard boats and aluminum pontoons to personal watercraft and ski boats enabled the recreational boat industry to continue its steady improvement in October against the backdrop of a mild autumn.
Sales rose 4.1 percent during the month to 4,779 boats in the main powerboat segments and 5 percent to 6,631 industrywide from October of last year in 29 states that represent about 63 percent of the U.S. market, Statistical Surveys reported.
Among the main segments, fiberglass outboard sales rose 5.5 percent, or 113 boats, to 2,165 and aluminum pontoon sales climbed 8.4 percent, or 64, to 829. Even sterndrive boat sales, which have lagged since the end of the most recent recession, rose by 14, or 5.1 percent, to 289.
Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe says the figures portray “another great late selling season that keeps us on pace for 6 to 8 percent growth for the year.”
“The industry is progressing,” he says. “There was really decent fall weather to get out there and sell some boats.”
Kloppe says he thinks sterndrive sales gains can continue in future months. “There’s some new product out there,” he says.
Through October, sales in the early-reporting states are up 6 percent to 137,688 in the main segments and 6.8 percent to 214,106 industrywide.
Sales of PWC rose by 170 in October, or 21.4 percent, to 965, sales of ski boats climbed by 28, or 15.6 percent, to 207, and jetboat sales increased by 57, or 73 percent, to 135. PWC sales in the early-reporting states total 50,499 through October.
Kloppe was at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Florida in November, and he says the dealers he met there were upbeat about their prospects for 2016.
“Dealers are excited about the new products the manufacturers are coming to market with,” he says.
Florida led the nation in October with 1,777 sales, followed by Texas (1,098), California (436), South Carolina (424) and North Carolina (377). The rest of the top 10 were Michigan (314), Alabama (266), Arkansas (205), Washington (203) and Tennessee (184).
More boats were sold in six of the top 10 states in October this year than in the same month last year. Fewer were sold in Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee, and sales in Michigan were flat.
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 fell by 17 to 35. Sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts climbed by 10 to 40 and sales of 63- to 99-foot semicustom and custom yachts increased by nine to 17.
Sailboat sales fell by six to 72.
This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue.