July was another huge month for boat sales, with registrations of new powerboats jumping 44.3 percent year-over-year in the main categories. Particular momentum was seen in value products, like runabouts and pontoons.
Boat registrations overall soared in July, rising 4.1 percent year-to-date in all categories, and 25.2 percent year-over-year, according to preliminary data from Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan firm that tracked data from 22 early-reporting states, accounting for around 43 percent of the U.S. market.
“I think this is what we were hearing out in the field — unreal,” says SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe. “It is only 22 states though. We are still having issues [obtaining data from states that typically report early]. We had Covid closures, and when you throw a bunch of registrations in there … you now have influx of boats being registered, so we have some states that are being backlogged.”
The National Marine Manufacturers Association, which separately tracks sales data, often directly from manufacturers, echoed the industry’s surging trends.
“July was another strong month for boating and the second-highest single month of new boat sales, seasonally adjusted, since 2007,“ says Vicky Yu, NMMA director of business intelligence. “New boat sales across all categories have recovered from pandemic-related losses and are all outperforming their respective year-to-date benchmarks.”
Registration of runabouts jumped 67.7 percent year-over-year, but were still down 1.3 percent year-to-date, marking a reversal in a years-long trend of declines in that category, according to SSI.
Ski and wake boats leapt a whopping 73 percent year-over-year for the month, and were up 11.6 percent year-to-date.
Pontoons had an excellent month also, with a 53.3 percent increase in registrations year-over-year and 8.3 percent year-to-date.
PWCs were down 5.6 percent — one of few recent monthly declines in a category that has grown 12.4 percent year-to-date — something Kloppe speculated might be due to inventory shortages as demand has been through the roof.
Fiberglass outboard-powered boats jumped 53.3 percent year-over-year, and are now off just 0.6 percent year-to-date.
Jet boats, another value-driven category, grew 8.6 percent year-over-year,
States like California, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee and South Carolina, which normally report early, were excluded from July’s data, leading Kloppe to believe the registration data could actually improve.
Texas surpassed Florida as the top state, with 5,127 units registered in July 2020 versus 3,947 in July 2019 — more than a 33 percent increase.
“These are just some nice big numbers,” said Kloppe. “We were hearing that out in the market from dealers and manufacturers, and now we’re seeing the results in some of the state data that’s coming in. The issue now is probably inventory. Everything had a great month, and I don’t see any reason to slow down except maybe due to some supply chain issues.”
This article was originally published in the October 2020 issue.