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Boat sales show improvement in May

Sales of recreational boats ended three months of declines in May, enabling the industry to avoid the disappointment of a spring selling season that did not include a single month of industrywide gains.

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Aluminum fishing boats and pontoons led the charge as sales in the industry’s main powerboat segments rose 7.1 percent, to 11,661, from the same month a year earlier in 25 early reporting states that comprise 59 percent of the national market, Statistical Surveys Inc. reported.

Industrywide, sales rose a modest 1.6 percent, to 18,346 boats.

“It’s nice to see the positive numbers,” Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe says. “Certainly [improved] weather was a factor and consumer confidence continues to tick upward.”

Although May formally ends the industry’s spring selling season, Kloppe says this is an unusual year for the industry because poor weather in the early part of the season likely delayed sales that are occurring now.

“I think there is a little momentum and I’m pretty optimistic that we’ll see another month of sales gains in June,” he says.

Sales of pontoons climbed 17.6 percent, or 606 boats, to 4,050, and fishing-boat sales rose 9 percent, or 226, to 2,747, as two of the strongest categories during the industry’s rebound from the Great Recession regained their momentum.

Sales of 11- to 40-foot outboards gained 4.5 percent, or 140 boats, to 3,273, but the 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive category saw sales fall 13.6 percent, or 216 boats, to 1,370.

Broadly speaking, sales of the smallest and largest vessels in the main powerboat segments rose and sales of mid-size boats fell.

Sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts increased by 17, to 87, and sales of 63- to 99-foot custom and semicustom yachts rose by eight to 21. The 31- to 40-foot cruiser category showed a decline of nine boats at 113.

Sales of jetboats continued to tumble, falling 38.1 percent, or 188, to 305, and sales of PWC were also lower, dropping 6.1 percent, or 239 units, to 3,697. Ski-boat sales bucked the trend, gaining 11.4 percent, or 61 boats, to 598.

Sailboat sales, which had risen in recent months, slipped by five, to 234.

This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue.

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