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Boat sales in all segments were down again in January

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Fiberglass unit volume falls nearly 40 percent; drop was slightly lower in aluminum and PWC

Sales of fiberglass boats, including personal watercraft, fell 39.8 percent on 2,636 units during January, according to early registration numbers compiled by Statistical Surveys Inc.

Fiberglass boats in the popular lengths of 14-30 feet declined 42.1 percent on 1,730 units. South Carolina, New Hampshire and Montana were the only states to post positive growth in this segment.

Aluminum boat sales fell 34.4 percent in January. Unit sales were 1,646 compared to 2,510 in January 2008.

PWC fell 34.8 percent on 488 units, compared to 749 in January 2008. January promotions boosted many states in this segment. States with positive growth included Texas, Louisiana, Idaho, South Carolina, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Washington.

These statistics include data from 30 early-reporting states that represent approximately 61 percent of the national market. Only states that currently provide weekly or monthly information are included in this summary. The Coast Guard-documented vessels file was complete through January.

The sales decline in January was slightly more than double for the same time period last year.

Heavy promotion and manufacturer buybacks from dealer liquidations are going to make preliminary information even more erratic as the channel clears surplus inventory around the country.

Looking at the personal watercraft segment data, Idaho could be a good example of this type of market adjustment taking place.

This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue.

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