Boat sales make gains in September

A late spring and a summer that lingered helped the boating industry post strong September sales for the third year in a row.
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A late spring and a summer that lingered helped the boating industry post strong September sales for the third year in a row.

Led by aluminum fishing boats and pontoons, small to midsize fiberglass outboards and personal watercraft, sales in the main powerboat segments rose 8.8 percent to 6,441 boats. Industrywide sales climbed by an even better 11.7 percent to 9,919 from the same month last year in 26 states that represent about 63 percent of the national market, according to Statistical Surveys.

“We had a good, long summer and new-boat sales continue to thrive,” says Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe.

Under similar weather conditions last year, sales rose 9.8 percent in September in the main powerboat segments and industrywide. In 2013 main-segments sales climbed 18.3 percent during the month, and they were 19.9 percent higher industrywide.

This year, September sales rose in all but one of the main segments. The top 13 states for sales and 21 of the 26 early-reporting states posted results that were better than those of the previous September.

With 1,974 sales, Florida reclaimed the top position from Texas, which led the country in July and August. Texas was second with 1,560 sales, followed by California (771), Michigan (650) and North Carolina (569).

“Your big-boating states are still doing well,” says Kloppe.

Completing the top 10 were South Carolina (510), Alabama (455), New York (378), Tennessee (338) and Washington (309).

Through September, sales totaled 204,160 industrywide, a gain of 6.6 percent. “The forecast pace was 6 to 8 percent,” says Kloppe. “We’re sitting right at that pace.”

Sales are up by 5.9 percent through September in the main segments at 130,683 boats.

Sales of aluminum fishing boats rose by 15.7 percent this September to 1,670, and aluminum pontoon sales climbed by 13 percent to 1,432. Sales of 11- to 40-foot fiberglass outboards gained 6.4 percent to 2,471.

Sales of personal watercraft jumped 28.2 percent to 2,276 units, and jetboat sales rose by 58 to 182.

Kloppe says the jetboat segment is benefiting from fresh designs and builders entering the category. “There’s new blood and new innovations in that segment,” he says.

Sales of ski boats rose by six, to 346, but the 14- to-30-foot inboard and sterndrive segment continued to lag. Sales there fell 7.8 percent to 437.

Reports of sales of documented vessels were incomplete because of data entry delays at the Coast Guard, creating an incomplete report for boats larger than 31 feet and understating the cruiser and yacht markets.

Data available show that sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers rose by four to 45. Sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts climbed by six to 29, and sales of 63- to 99-foot semicustom and custom yachts increased by two to 11.

Sailboat sales fell by 10 to 83.

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue.

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