For many U.S. boat dealers, the first month of the year often is earmarked for completing projects and paperwork relegated to the back burner during the high season, as well as preparing for spring.
However, January registration numbers showed no signs of tapering off, according to Statistical Surveys, a Michigan firm that tracks new-boat registrations.
With 33 states reporting — approximately 66 percent of the U.S. boating market — registrations in January were up 17 percent in the main powerboat categories and 23.3 percent on a year-over-year basis.
“We all kind of expected this,” Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe told Trade Only Today. “It’s a great start to 2021.”
Southern states continued to post strong numbers in January. Florida was No. 1, with a near 12 percent gain at 2,613 registrations, compared with 2,338 the previous year. The No. 2 state, Texas, saw a 27 percent jump at 1,292 registrations, compared with 1,021 in 2020.
North Carolina was No. 3, up 27 percent (to 579 from 454), with California and Louisiana rounding out the top five states.
No. 9 Michigan — the only Northern state to crack the top 10 — was up 31 percent from January 2020 (to 359 from 275). New Jersey was No. 11, which had a 169 percent gain at 261 registrations, compared with 97 in 2020.
“There’s still [incredible] demand,” Kloppe said. “Boats that are rolling off manufacturers’ production lines are already sold.”
Some builders have announced facility expansions and other measures to keep up with demand.
Last month, Brunswick Corp. said it is increasing production capacity at U.S. and international locations and reopening its 225,000-square-foot Palm Coast, Fla., plant that’s been closed since 2018.
Correct Craft relocated Supreme Boats to a 160,000-square-foot site in Valdosta, Ga. (the former Regal Boats facility), and purchased a 300,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its Orlando, Fla., Nautique headquarters.
All of the main powerboat categories were up except for 31- to 40-foot cruisers and 41- to 65-foot yachts, which were down 46.3 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively.
Pontoons increased 55 percent year over year (to 1,307 from 839), with bowrider and deckboats putting up nearly 39 percent (to 208 from 150) for the same time period.
Jetboats and PWC continued to show brisk sales, as well. Jetboats were up 61 percent with sales of 198 units, compared with 123 in the same time period the previous year. PWC sales totaled 1,934 for the month (from 1,128), up 71.5 percent year over year.
Even electric boat numbers increased, up 127.5 percent for the month (to 25 from 11), compared with January 2020.
Kloppe expects robust sales and high demand to continue, but said some of the year-over-year comparisons would trend downward in the middle and later months of 2021, reflecting the numbers dealers posted as so many people took to the water to be socially distant last year.
“We have some tough comps to face,” he said.