Boat sales show sharp gains in August

Sales of fiberglass outboards, pontoon boats and personal watercraft surged in August, giving the recreational boat industry its highest percentage gains of the year.
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Sales of fiberglass outboards, pontoon boats and personal watercraft surged in August, giving the recreational boat industry its highest percentage gains of the year.

Even the sterndrive category showed improvement — posting a 6 percent increase, to 861 — as sales rose 8.7 percent in the main powerboat segments, to 9,188, and 12.4 percent industrywide, to 15,578, in 27 states that represent about 64 percent of the national market, Statistical Surveys reports.

The double-digit increase across the industry was the first for any month this year in the early-reporting states. For the second month in a row, Texas (2,289) topped Florida (2,253) to rank first in sales nationwide among those states.

On a year-over-year basis, sales are up 5.6 percent, to 121,084, in the main segments and 6.2 percent industrywide, to 189,209, in the 27 states.

“The big players had a huge month,” says Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe, adding that dealers across the country have been reporting strong sales and turnover during the summer.

“We hadn’t seen it in the retail numbers,” he says. “Those sales and that turnover are finally showing up here in August.

“This is the first time we’ve seen sterndrives up in quite a while,” he adds. “That’s good for the industry.”

Sales of small to midsize fiberglass outboards rose 7.3 percent, to 3,152, and pontoon sales climbed 16.9 percent, to 2,501. PWC sales were up 26.8 percent, to 4,693.

The industry nearly had four categories with sales that topped 2,000. Sales of aluminum fishing boats fell just shy of that mark, rising 4.5 percent, to 1,961.

After Texas and Florida, the top states for sales were Michigan (1,266), South Carolina (1,176), California (1,016), Tennessee (871), New York (760), North Carolina (754), Alabama (507) and New Jersey (504).

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports of documented vessels, providing a complete picture of sales in the low-volume, bigger-boat categories. Sales of 41- to-62-foot yachts were up by two, at 63, and sales of 63- to 99-foot yachts rose by five, to 17.

The 31- to 40-foot cruiser category was the only one in the main segments in which sales declined. They fell by 21, to 80.

Ski-boat sales rose 7.4 percent, to 553, and jetboat sales were up 28.1 percent (71 boats), to 324. Jetboat sales were up 20.9 percent through August, at 3,565, in the early-reporting states.

Sailboat sales continued to lag, falling by six boats, to 153. They were down 7.8 percent, at 1,782, through August in the early-reporting states.

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue.

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