4Q boat sales down again, closing out a year to forget

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Sales of new boats continued to drop in the fourth quarter of 2008. The total fiberglass segment, including personal watercraft, fell 38.5 percent and aluminum sales were off 27.1 percent. The data here is based on registration information from all 50 states.

Sales of fiberglass boats 14 feet and larger decreased 41.9 percent, on volume of 8,528 boats.

Brunswick Boat Group had the largest market share in this segment with 14 percent, while Genmar Industries followed with 11.5. Tracker Marine had 5.3 percent, Yamaha was at 4.5 and Carolina Skiff had 4.9 percent.

Sales of fiberglass boats 30 feet and larger fell 47.6 percent on volume of 1,127 units. Builders with positive unit growth for the period were Four Winns, Cobalt, Everglades and Sea Vee Boats.

Activity in aluminum boats also fell in the quarter on sales of 7,766 units. This represented a 27.1 percent drop in the quarter. Aluminum market share leaders were Tracker Marine with 21.7 percent of the sales, Brunswick Boat Group at 15.2, Alumacraft at 11 percent, Yamaha with 6.7 percent, and Nautic Global Group at 2.5 percent.

The PWC market was down 32 percent in the quarter on sales of 2,845 units. Market leaders were Bombardier Sea-Doo with 43.5 percent, Yamaha Wave Runner at 35.5 percent, Kawasaki Jet Ski at 14 percent and Honda with 7 percent.

The deckboat segment posted the steepest decline for the period, falling 48.4 percent on 495 units. Smoker Craft and Magic were the only brands posting growth in the quarter.

Ski/wakeboard boats showed the smallest decline for the period. Sales were down 23.8 percent on 683 units. MB Sports was the only brand with growth for the quarter in this segment.

The 2008 boat market will go on record as the lowest recorded unit volume since the inception of registration reporting began in 1995. There were no real surprises in the fourth quarter results. Small aluminum and ski/wakeboard boats were the most resilient segments.

Preliminary data continue to show negative numbers for first quarter 2009.

This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue.

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