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Boat sales show solid gains in November

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The numbers weren’t nearly as large as boatbuilders and dealers typically see at midsummer, but the industry had another strong month in November, posting double-digit sales gains.

Statistical Surveys said sales rose 11.2 percent in the main powerboat segments to 2,799 and 12.4 percent industrywide to 3,969 from the same month in 2013 in 26 early-reporting states that represent about 63 percent of the national market.

In November of 2013, main-segments sales fell 1.5 percent and industrywide sales dropped 2.6 percent in 28 states. The month is typically one of the slowest of the year for boat sales. By contrast, the industry sold 23,402 boats in 31 early-reporting states last July.

“I would say it’s a pleasant surprise,” Ryan Kloppe, national marine sales manager at Statistical Surveys, said of the November results. “[November] is one of the slower months, but to see double-digit growth to close out the year is fantastic.”

Outboard fiberglass boats from 11 to 40 feet led the main segments with 1,433 November sales, an increase of 21.3 percent. The industry had sold 38,320 fiberglass outboards in the early-reporting states through November, more than in any other category in the main segments.

Industrywide, only personal watercraft sales (44,173 through November) were higher. Kloppe said the industry was on track to sell 10,000 more PWC in 2014 than it did in 2013.

Sales of aluminum pontoon boats rose 10.3 percent in November to 397 and sales of aluminum fishing boats climbed 4.5 percent to 727.

Through November in the early-reporting states, sales totaled 125,397 in the main segments, an increase of 5.4 percent, and 202,039 industrywide, an increase of 8.6 percent that puts the industry within about 5,000 boats of the 2013 overall sales total of 207,277 for all 50 states. Kloppe said that on a percentage basis, the year-to-date gains were about where the industry was likely to finish 2014.

Sales were higher in nine of the top 10 selling states in November than they were a year earlier.

Florida was the November sales leader with 1,451 boats, a gain of 246; Texas ranked second at 582, a gain of 76; North Carolina was third at 209, a drop of seven; California ranked fourth at 208, a gain of 25; and South Carolina ranked fifth at 202, a gain of 74.

Rounding out the top 10, Arkansas had 197 sales, a gain of 59; Michigan had 144, a gain of 11; Tennessee had 132, a gain of 28; Washington had 128, a gain of 25; and Delaware had 103, a gain of 19.

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 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by 10 to 52, sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts rose by five to 47 and sales of 63- to 99-foot yachts rose by three to 13.

Among smaller vessels, sales of personal watercraft rose by 73 units to 417 and ski-boat sales rose by 29 to 116. Jetboat sales fell by three to 42.

Sailboat sales rose by 20 to 94.

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue.

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