Boat sales bounce back with gains in June

When summer arrives, you need a summer fun boat.
 Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

When summer arrives, you need a summer fun boat.

Plenty of Americans got the itch to have one in June and they bought enough aluminum pontoon boats, personal watercraft, ski and wake boats and jetboats to get the industry revved up again after sales slowed sharply in April and May.

The four categories posted double-digit gains in June as sales in the industry’s main powerboat segments climbed 8.9 percent to 15,974 and industrywide sales rose an even-better 10.2 percent to 27,682 from the same month a year earlier in 24 states that represent about 62 percent of the U.S. boat market, Statistical Surveys said.

“Anytime you’re pushing double-digit gains, that’s great for the industry,” Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said.

The rebound continued an unusual year for the industry. After a gain of 20 percent in March, industrywide sales were nearly flat in April and May.

“The summer really popped in June,” Kloppe said, noting unsteady May weather in parts of the country that may have deterred potential buyers.

“June is one of the highest registration months of the year” for boats, he said, so industry sales are rising at a time when boating has traditionally done well.

Pontoon sales in June climbed 14.6 percent to 5,446, PWC sales rose 14.1 percent to 8,862, sales of ski and wake boats rose 11.6 percent to 962 and jetboat sales gained 15.8 percent to 573.

PWC sales totaled nearly 55,000 last year and the category was the only one that topped 50,000. With sales of 26,222 in the early-reporting states through June, the PWC category is on pace to top 50,000 again this year.

Industrywide sales were up by 2,565 from the same month last year and the four top-performing categories accounted for 1,967 of the gains.

Two other strong main-segments groups — outboard fiberglass boats and aluminum fishing boats — also contributed to the June rebound. Sales of 11- to 50-foot fiberglass outboards rose 8.9 percent to 4,788 and fishing-boat sales climbed 4 percent to 3,204.

Sales of inboard and sterndrive boats, which have struggled since the Great Recession ended, were close to flat, falling by 16, or 1.2 percent, to 1,294.

Through June in the early-reporting states, sales are up 6.3 percent in the main segments at 83,760 boats and industrywide sales are up 5.7 percent at 125,695. At that pace, the industry would top the 244,116 boats it sold in 2015 and meet 2016 forecasts.

Florida, which usually leads the nation in sales, finished June at No. 1 with 4,026. Michigan was second at 3,464; Texas was third at 3,244; New York was fourth at 2,160; and North Carolina was fifth at 1,744. The rest of the top 10 were California (1,373); Alabama (1,359); New Jersey (1,128); Tennessee (1,115); and South Carolina (1,092).

Sales were higher this year in eight of the top 10 states; only Alabama (down 53) and South Carolina (down 11) reported lower sales. Among the 24 early-reporting states, 17 had higher sales.

This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue.


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