Sales of all fiberglass boats, including personal watercraft, fell 5.1 percent in August, but the aluminum market showed solid gains and continues to be the growth segment this year.
Sales of aluminum pontoon boats were up 12.7 percent to 1,645 units in August, and sales of aluminum fishing boats were up 9.7 percent to 1,747 units, according to figures compiled by Aarn Rosen, national marine sales manager at Statistical Surveys Inc. Through August, pontoon boat sales had risen 10.8 percent to 14,210 units, and sales of fishing boats were up 6.5 percent, to 16,431. Sales of pontoon and fishing boats as a whole rose 10 percent to 3,392 for the month — up from 3,051 in August 2010.
Gains in the aluminum categories helped the industry’s main powerboat segments to achieve a 3.7 percent increase in sales for the month and a 3 percent gain through August. “That shows the market is attaining a new equilibrium,” Rosen says. “You’re also seeing progress in the bowrider, cruiser and yacht markets. They’re not contracting at a dramatic rate [for the year], and that’s positive in itself.”
Total industry sales across all categories were nearly flat, falling 0.5 percent for the month — from 12,450 boats in August of last year to 12,385 during the same month this year. Through August, 104,803 boats had been sold — 0.9 percent fewer than the 105,792 sales recorded for the first eight months in 2010.
The sales information is based on registration data from 27 states, or 66 percent of the U.S. boat market. Reports on sales of documented vessels were incomplete because of data entry delays at the Coast Guard.
A total of 8,060 fiberglass boats were sold during the month, down from 8,497 in the same month a year earlier. Within the fiberglass market, sales in the popular 14- to 30-foot segment fell 2.3 percent to 1,775 boats from 1,816 in August 2010. Through August, sales in the segment had fallen 5.5 percent, to 13,945 boats.
Sales of personal watercraft fell 6.6 percent in August, to 2,962 units from 3,171 in the same month a year earlier. Through August, PWC sales had fallen 8.9 percent to 21,523 units.
Sales of outboard-powered boats in a range of 11 to 40 feet rose 0.9 percent for the month to 2,127 boats from 2,108 in August of last year. For the year through August, sales in the category were up 2.2 percent, to 18,755 boats.
Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell 33 percent in August — from 115 boats to 77; for the year, though, sales in the category had fallen only 4.8 percent, to 925 boats. Sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts dropped 8.8 percent in August — from 68 boats to 62; for the year, sales in the category were only 1.1 percent lower at 720 boats. Sales of custom and semicustom yachts from 63 to 99 feet fell 52.6 percent in August, from 19 yachts to nine; for the year, sales in the segment were 13.2 percent lower, to 105 boats.
Ski boat sales rose 4.7 percent in August from 364 units to 381; for the year, sales in the category were 3.1 percent lower to 2,763 boats. Sales of jetboats fell 20.6 percent in August, from 291 boats to 231; for the year, the decline was a much narrower 3.9 percent, to 2,046 boats.
Houseboat sales fell 30 percent in August, from 10 boats to seven, consistent with the sales performance in the category for the year. Through August, 39 houseboats had been sold — down 30.4 percent from the same period a year earlier. Sales of electric boats fell 71.4 percent, from 28 boats to eight; for the year, sales in the category were 17 percent lower, at 88 boats.
Sales of sailboats dropped 8.5 percent, from 142 boats to 130, but sales through August were up 6.2 percent, to 1,331 boats.
This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue.