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Boat sales struggle in tough second quarter

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Sales of new boats continued to drop in the second quarter of 2009. The total fiberglass segment, including personal watercraft, fell 30.6 percent, while aluminum sales were off 27.9 percent. These statistics are based on registration data from 48 states, with two not reporting, or 99 percent of the U.S. boat market.

The fiberglass 14-foot-and-up segment decreased 34.4 percent on sales of 29,162 boats. Market share leaders for the segment in the second quarter were Brunswick Marine Group, at 18.1 percent; Genmar, 14.2 percent; Tracker Marine, 7 percent; Yamaha, 4.3 percent; and Carolina Skiff, 3.3 percent.

The sterndrive boat segment (all lengths) continued to decline for the period, dropping 36.6 percent on 10,733 units. Market share leaders for sterndrives were Brunswick Marine Group, at 33.1 percent; Genmar, 16.9 percent; Tracker Marine, 9.5 percent; Marine Products Corp., 8.4 percent; and Stingray, 4.1 percent. Similar to the same period last year, the deck boat segment posted one of the steepest declines for the period on 2,277 units, falling 39.2 percent.

Brands with the greatest growth in market share year-to-date were Godfrey Marine, Sea Ray, Tahoe, Chaparral, Lowe, Regal, Kayot and Monterey.

The bigger fiberglass boats, 30 feet and up, fell 39.7 percent. The builders with positive unit growth were Jeanneau, Bayliner, Princess, Yellowfin, and Robertson and Caine. Sales of aluminum boats also fell in the quarter, to 31,839 units, a 27.9 percent drop. Aluminum market share leaders were Tracker Marine, with 20.9 percent; Brunswick Boat Group, 18.2 percent; Alumacraft, 10 percent; Yamaha, 5.1 percent; and Smoker Craft, 5.2 percent.

The PWC market was down 27.7 percent in the quarter on sales of 19,395 units. Market leaders were Bombardier Sea-Doo, with 39.2 percent; Yamaha Wave Runner, 32.9 percent; Kawasaki Jet Ski, 16.8 percent; and Honda, 11.1 percent.

Final second-quarter 2009 fiberglass boat sales set another record low for the period at 53,210 units. Fiberglass 30 feet and up was the hardest-hit category in the period. Rising unemployment in key states appears to be influencing buyer behavior more than aggressive promotions. Preliminary data moving into the third quarter is showing a slower rate of decline than experienced in the second quarter.

Aarn D. Rosen is national marine sales manager for Statistical Surveys, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based firm that tracks retail boat sales.

This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue.

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