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Boat sales show single-digit gains in July

Traditional summer fun boats — jetboats, ski boats and personal watercraft — had their day in the sun in July, leading the recreational boat industry to an industrywide sales gain of 5 percent.
 Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Traditional summer fun boats — jetboats, ski boats and personal watercraft — had their day in the sun in July, leading the recreational boat industry to an industrywide sales gain of 5 percent.

Jetboats and PWC achieved double-digit gains and made up for a nearly flat performance in the industry’s main powerboat segments.

Industrywide sales totaled 25,778, up 5.3 percent from 24,489 in the same month last year in 30 early-reporting states that represent about 70 percent of the U.S. market, Statistical Surveys reported.

“The late-summer regulars are hitting their stride,” says Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe. “July is typically the third- or fourth-best sales month of the year.”

Sales of PWC rose 16.7 percent to 9,182 — more than double the total of any other industry category. Sales of ski boats rose 7.1 percent to 827, and jetboat sales rose 24.5 percent to 559.

Within the main segments, the gains were more modest and sales were lower in a few categories than they were in July of last year. Overall sales rose just 0.7 percent to 14,015 for the group.

Sales of small to medium-size fiberglass outboards rose 4.6 percent to 4,186 and sales of aluminum fishing boats climbed 4.3 percent to 2,984. Sales of aluminum pontoon boats slipped 2.4 percent to 4,528, although the strong pontoon category led the main segments in total sales.

Kloppe says some boat buyers might have been hesitant, fearing the effects in this country of economic problems in Greece, China and elsewhere, “but we’re still on track for 6 to 8 percent growth [in total sales] this year. We’re just under that right now.”

Florida usually leads the early-reporting states, but Texas surprisingly topped the list this month with 3,563 sales, up 494 from 3,069 last year. Kloppe says a rainy spring in the Southwest that eased drought conditions and filled lakes and rivers probably contributed to the sales surge.

Florida was second with 3,185 sales, up from 3,126 last year. Michigan was third with 2,334 sales, up from 2,222, Minnesota was fourth with 1,463, up from 1,397, and New York was fifth with 1,447, up from 1,428.

The rest of the top 10 were North Carolina (1,408, up from 1,138); South Carolina (1,306, up from 1,120); California (1,185, down from 1,205); Washington (1,104, up from 735); and Alabama (857, down from 943).

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports of documented vessels, providing a complete picture of sales in the cruiser and yacht segments. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by four, to 115, but sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts rose by nine, to 70; sales of 63- to 99-foot custom and semicustom yachts fell by five, to 22.

Sales of sailboats fell by 24, or 9.2 percent, to 236.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue.

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