Decline in boat sales may be leveling off

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Boat sales in October dropped 13.8 percent, with only one region breaking even.

The West South Central (Southwest) region was even in October. New England was hardest-hit, with a 51.5 percent decline.

For the 12-month rolling time frame, the East North Central Region (Great Lakes) increased 9.2 percent. Year-to-date, that region is up 9.3 percent. The 2010 year-to-date rate of decline was 13.5 percent through October, up 0.2 percent from September.

Pontoon sales increased 8.3 percent on sales of 444 units.

October volumes are so low it's difficult to draw significant conclusions from the slight changes across the country. The decline in New England is inconsistent with prior months and will likely be adjusted upward with November data.

The boat market appears to be leveling off with lower double-digit declines in fiberglass and high single-digit increases in the aluminum pontoon segment. The entire boat market can be expected to be down about 13 to 14 percent by year's end.

These numbers represent the entire fiberglass and aluminum markets, including PWC. These statistics include 31 early reporting states, approximately 68 percent of the national market. October represents 3.6 to 4.3 percent of total annual retail volume on a calendar-year basis. All comparisons use year-over-year data.

The Coast Guard Documented Vessels file was not included because of delays, so declines could be overstated as a result.

Aarn D. Rosen is national marine sales manager for Statistical Surveys of Grand Rapids, Mich.

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue.

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