Boat sales in June rose incrementally, with a 1.1 percent increase in the main powerboat segments and a 0.2 percent increase overall, according to data from Statistical Surveys, a Michigan firm that tracks new-boat registrations.
The data for the month, which came from early-reporting states representing about 51 percent of the industry, do not include Florida because SSI determined the state’s numbers were incomplete, according to sales director Ryan Kloppe. The company gets its data from states and proprietary information from manufacturers, allowing SSI to see that the numbers didn’t align, Kloppe says.
“They’ve just fallen behind,” he says. This prompted SSI to remove Florida from June’s data last year so the year-to-year comparisons were apples-to-apples.
California sales were off about 50 percent overall from last year, from 1,525 to 1,007, raising concerns from investors who have watched towboat sales thrive in the Golden State. Malibu and MasterCraft stock values dropped around 10 percent the day after numbers were released.
The bulk of California’s drop in new-boat sales came in the personal watercraft segment — which aren’t included in the main powerboat categories — accounting for more than 300 units, Kloppe says. The main categories were off less than 25 percent.
“We did our due diligence to find a reason why the numbers were so low,” Kloppe says, adding that the numbers matched the data they received from manufacturers. “As of now, it’s just down. We don’t have any proof they’re behind like we do with Florida.”
The early numbers were below growth expectations for the year, projected between 3 and 6 percent. That could be meaningful in annual totals, as June is historically the biggest sales month, followed by May, Kloppe says.
Florida has been down around 4 percent for the year through May, he says, though the state endured an unusually wet spring. If that were to rebound in June, which had more typical Florida weather, that could bring the increase more in line with expectations.
Without Florida in the data, Texas had the most sales, with 4,093 boats registered versus 3,432 last year. Michigan followed with 3,502, slightly lagging behind June 2017. North Carolina ranked third with 2,011 units sold versus 1,917 last year.
Aluminum fishing boats had the strongest growth for the early-reporting states, up 5.7 percent over 2017, with 3,358 units sold. Pontoons were next, with 3.7 percent growth and 5,970 units sold. Ski and wake boats, another segment that has grown steadily, was up 2.1 percent, with 1,226 units sold.
Fiberglass outboard boats had a second month of decline, dropping 1.9 percent from June 2017 to 3,864 units. The segment also fell 1.5 percent in May.
Sales of large boats took a substantial hit in June, also the second consecutive month. Cruisers were off 40.7 percent, from 118 sold last June versus 70 this year. Yachts were down 57.1 percent, from 56 last June to 24 this year.
In the other powerboat segments, houseboats were a bright spot, growing from two sold last year to 10 this year. PWC sales ticked up 2.5 percent.
Sailboat sales were down 39.9 percent, with 98 sold in June versus 163 last year.
This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue.