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Boat sales make small gains in October

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For the second month in a row, U.S. recreational boat sales showed single-digit gains in October that built on double-digit advances a year earlier as a late-blooming selling season extended deeper into the fall.

Statistical Surveys said sales rose 7 percent in the main powerboat segments and industrywide in October from the same month last year in 28 early-reporting states that represent about 64 percent of the national market. In October 2013, main-segments sales climbed 16.9 percent and industrywide sales rose 14.4 percent in 33 states.

2014 sales in the early-reporting states now total 202,228 through October, bringing the industry within 5,000 boats of the 2013 sales total of 207,277 for all 50 states. Industrywide sales in October this year totaled 6,155, up 421 from last year.

2014 sales nationwide now appear certain to top those of the previous year as the industry continues its recovery from the Great Recession.

“It’s just nice to see the momentum,” Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe said from Florida, where he was attending the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo in Orlando. “Single-digit gains on top of double-digit gains last year are a great way to close out 2014. It’s a good sign of what’s to come in 2015.”

Kloppe said the steady, consistent growth the industry has seen this year is what it has been seeking and what it needs. MDCE conferees told him that they’ve had a strong year.

“You’re seeing some manufacturers and dealers saying that this was the best season that they’ve had on record,” he said.

Sales in the main powerboat segments totaled 4,255 in the early-reporting states in October, an increase of 280 from last year, led by aluminum fishing and pontoon boats and fiberglass outboards.

Sales of fishing boats rose 9.8 percent to 1,168, sales of pontoons climbed 4.7 percent to 738 and sales of fiberglass outboards from 11 to 40 feet increased 7.6 percent to 1,944.

Sales of 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive fiberglass boats continued to lag other segments. Sales of 268 boats were 4.6 percent lower than in October last year.

Sales were higher in eight of the top 10 selling states in October this year than they were in the same month last year.

Florida was the October sales leader with 1,730 boats, a gain of 158. Texas ranked second at 959, a gain of 143. South Carolina was third at 397, a gain of 23; North Carolina ranked fourth at 346, a gain of 55; and California ranked fifth at 341, a gain of 62.

Rounding out the top 10, Michigan had 314 sales, a gain of 54; Arkansas had 214, a gain of 31; Tennessee had 205, a drop of 151; Washington had 171, a gain of 17; and Minnesota had 156, a drop of 61.

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 19 to 70, sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts rose by three to 53 and sales of 63- to 99-foot yachts fell by three to 14.

Among smaller vessels, sales of personal watercraft rose by 85 units to 811 and sales of jetboats rose by five to 73. Ski-boat sales rose by 23 to 188.

This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue.

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