Aluminum boats fare better than fiberglass in April sales report

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Boat sales continued to decline in April, but the decline was far less pronounced in aluminum boats than in fiberglass.

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The early release report for the month from Statistical Surveys shows a decline of 23.5 percent in the popular fiberglass 14- to 30-foot category, compared with a drop of 8.2 percent in the overall aluminum market.

The early release report was begun by Statistical Surveys two years ago to give a monthly snapshot of marine industry retail sales activity. It is intended to identify general trends in primary marine segments.

The April report reflects figures from 28 early-reporting states, representing about 60 percent of the national market.

April sales of fiberglass boats in the 14- to 30-foot segment totaled 8,588 units in the 28-state report. On a rolling, 12-month basis, sales in this segment were down 14.1 percent in the 28 states on volume of 91,047 units, compared with 105,997 for the period through April 2007. Some states, however, registered sales increases for the month. Among them were Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi and West Virginia.

The increased sales in Louisiana, which was up a whopping 77.3 percent in fiberglass volume over April 2007, and Mississippi, up 10.2 percent in fiberglass, may be an indication the petroleum-heavy economies of those states may make them more immune to the forces driving down sales in other regions.

The 8.2 percent April decline in aluminum boats for the 28-state reporting group reflects sales of 7,862 units. On a positive note, 10 of the 28 reporting states showed sales increases. Aluminum sales for the 12-month period through April 2008 were down 6.9 percent on volume of 65,681 units in the 28-state report.

Sales of personal watercraft fell a sharp 22.5 percent in April on volume of 3,576 units. For the 12-month period, they were down 8.5 percent on 51,641 units in the 28 states.

This article originally appeared in the July 2008 issue.

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