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Boat sales see slight gains in August

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Outboard fiberglass boats throttled up with a double-digit sales gain in August, but the rest of the recreational boat market struggled to keep up, leaving the market flat overall for the month.

Fiberglass outboards have been an industry leader and they were the strongest performer among the industry’s main segments. Sales climbed 15.4 percent, or 363 boats, to 2,719 for the month, in Statistical Surveys’ monthly report, compared with August a year earlier.

“That segment continues to thrive,” Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe said.

As a whole, though, main segments sales rose just 0.6 percent, or 44 boats, to 7,523, and industrywide sales were up only 1.5 percent, or 195 boats, to 13,075, in 25 states that represent about 62 percent of the U.S. market.

The figures compared with a robust August a year earlier, when main segments sales climbed 11.8 percent and industrywide sales rose an even higher 12.8 percent.

“Up slightly is great, compared with double-digit growth last year in August,” Kloppe said.

Through August, industrywide sales in the early-reporting states are up 8.2 percent, or 13,462 boats, at 177,312.

Sales of aluminum fishing boats fell 0.9 percent, or 16 boats, to 1,834, and sales of aluminum pontoons dropped 4.2 percent, or 91 boats, to 2,089.

Sales of 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive fiberglass boats had a particularly poor month, falling 20.9 percent, or 193 boats, to 731.

Nonetheless, sales were higher in seven of the top 10 states in August this year than they were in the same month last year.

Florida was the sales leader with 2,476, a gain of 515. Texas ranked second at 1,859, a drop of 110, and Michigan was third at 1,004, a gain of 60. California had 916 sales, a gain of 58, and Minnesota had 736, a drop of 60.

Rounding out the top 10, sales were higher in North Carolina (658, up 10), South Carolina (634, up 35) and Tennessee (605, up 98), lower in New York (542, down 154) and higher in Washington (448, up 14).

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 rose by two, to 86, sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts fell by 23, to 52, and sales of 63- to 99-foot yachts rose by two, to 12.

Among smaller vessels, sales of personal watercraft climbed 3.1 percent, or 107 units, to 3,531, sales of jetboats rose by 17 to 228 and ski-boat sales climbed by 23 to 454.

Sailboat sales rose by five, or 3.4 percent, to 150.

This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue.

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