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Early 2010 sales results are a mixed bag

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Two regions reported retail growth in January, according to early release numbers. The Middle Atlantic region increased 11.2 percent, and the New England region posted a hefty 42.3 percent gain. The East North Central region was hardest hit, with a 35.8 percent decline.

For the 12-month rolling time frame, the West North Central Region posted the smallest contraction, dropping 19.6 percent. All percentage changes are year-over-year comparisons.

Regional results may fluctuate over time because some regions have fewer early reporting states than others.

Keep in mind three things as you evaluate these results. First, January represents only 3 to 4 percent of the total retail volume in a calendar year. Second, national or regional numbers can overshadow growth in local markets. When high-volume markets such as Miami or Dallas are still adjusting to market conditions, growth in smaller markets like Indianapolis or Green Bay is hidden by the larger market declines.

Third, use all three time frames to help understand the market pulse.

Preliminary monthly numbers represent a prevailing trend, up or down, and will always be more volatile than 12-month rolling or year-to-date data. For example, New England may be up much more than other regions this month, but the 12-month rolling trend points to a market that is still trending down. Combine the data with astute questions about your specific market area, and you'll have a winning combination for good, factually supported business decisions.

This snapshot represents the entire fiberglass and aluminum markets, including personal watercraft. These statistics include 33 early reporting states that represent approximately 70 percent of the national market.

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 April 2010 issue.

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