Recreational boat sales slipped in December, but full-year figures based on results from 27 early-reporting states, including Florida and Texas, show that industry sales rose about 5 percent last year.
Statistical Surveys said 246,891 boats were sold industrywide in those states in 2016, 4.9 percent more than in 2015. In the main powerboat segments sales totaled 160,641, up 5.1 percent from the previous year.
The performance marks the industry’s fifth consecutive year of sales gains.
“It’s what we’ve been seeing — slow moderate growth continuing,” says Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe.
He predicts that the final 2016 sales increase will be between 5 and 5.5 percent once all 50 states have reported.
The 27-state total is already 2,775 ahead of the 2015 count for all 50 states. In 2015 the industry sold 244,116 boats, a pace that was 6.8 percent higher than 2014.
In 2016, full-year outboard fiberglass boat sales were at 47,190 in the early-reporting states (up 4.7 percent), aluminum pontoon sales were at 46,434 (up 8.9 percent) and sales of aluminum fishing boats were at 44,955 (up 3.1 percent).
All but two categories among the main powerboat segments showed gains.
“You’re seeing all types of boats contributing to the growth,” Kloppe says.
The fastest-growing category of the main segments was ski and wake boats, where sales in the 27 states rose 11.6 percent, or 878, to 8,478.
“They’ve had double-digit gains for a couple of years,” Kloppe says.
Among the bigger-boat segments, 31-to-40-foot cruisers showed the strongest growth. Sales rose 8.1 percent, or 111, to 1,475.
Sales in December, the slowest month of the year in the industry, fell 2.7 percent to 3,276 in the main powerboat segments. They were 1.3 percent lower industrywide at 4,594.
Among the main segments only aluminum pontoons and 31-to-40-foot cruisers showed gains in December from the same month last year. Pontoon sales rose 52 to 449 and cruiser sales were up nine at 71.
Outside the main segments, sales of personal watercraft rose 10.3 percent, or 61, to 656. For all of 2016 57,331 PWC were sold in the early-reporting states, a 7.4 percent increase.
Florida led those states in overall December sales with 1,922. Texas was second at 634, followed by California at 464; North Carolina at 225; and Alabama at 175.
Rounding out the top 10 were Arkansas at 145; Michigan at 127; Mississippi at 115; Delaware at 93; and New York at 92.
The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing complete figures for December in the bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers rose by nine to 71. Sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts fell by 31 to 45 and sales of 66-foot and larger semicustom and custom yachts fell by one to 14.
Sailboat sales rose by 28 to 98. For the year, sailboat sales were up 4 percent at 2,300 in the early-reporting states.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue.