New boat registrations in the main powerboat categories spiked 34.2 percent year over year in September, and rose 8.5 percent year to date, according to preliminary data from Statistical Surveys Inc.
As some in the industry predicted, warmer states continued to see strong demand in the month. Florida, with 2,557 new boat registrations, saw a 16.8 percent increase in September versus September 2019; Texas, the No. 2 state for the month, saw a 35.2 percent leap with 2,332 registrations.
All of the main powerboat segments — including the sterndrive and inboard category that has been declining consistently and steadily since the Great Recession — was up at least 24 percent year over year.
“As a sign of the times with inventories at very low levels, even the sterndrive/inboard categories have seen meaningful registration increases, with a consolidated gain of 45.5 percent for September and 4.8 percent for the year-to-date period,” writes B Riley analyst Eric Wold in a report.
Pontoons and bowriders were each up over 47 percent.
Registrations of ski and wake boats, which have been making double-digit gains many months since before the pandemic, rose 37.5 percent.
“Ski/wake boat registrations for the month of September were up 38 percent year over year, marking the fourth consecutive month of double-digit gains and the eighth month within the past year to witness year-over-year gains. year to date,” says Michael Swartz, an analyst covering the marine space for Truist Securities, in a report. “Registrations are now up 16 percent, or nearly double the rate of overall industry demand.”
All other categories were up also, with the exception of PWCs, according to registration data from 29 early reporting states, accounting for almost 60 percent of the U.S. market.
The industry as a whole was up 5.8 percent year to date, and more than 20 percent year over year. Demand has been so strong that dealers have said getting new boats to sell has proven challenging.
“This is all a great problem for the industry to have,” says SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe. “Sales are up during a pandemic, which is really good. We think demand will still be there the following year for people who couldn’t get into the market this year. We’re seeing double-digit increases in every area except PWCs. The recreational world is doing well.”
The strong month of demand suggests that the supply chain and inventory challenges have yet to materially impact the retail environment, says Swartz. With 90 percent of the historic retail season in the books, it’s clear the industry will post high single-digit volume growth for the year, versus mid single-digit growth as Truist predicted.
“While this is unlikely to translate into materially higher shipment volume — i.e. OEM revenue — during the balance of 2020, it should provide an even more favorable setup for 2021 and beyond.” writes Swartz in a report.
This article was originally published in the December 2020 issue.