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Fiberglass sales slump through summer

Sales of all fiberglass boats, including personal watercraft, fell again in July as the core 14- to 30-foot market declined despite increases in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

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Total fiberglass sales fell 5.2 percent, from 10,895 boats in July 2010 to 10,327 this year, in 27 early reporting states. Reports of sales of documented vessels were incomplete for the month, so the decline will prove to be overstated when final figures are compiled.

Sales in the 14- to 30-foot segment dropped 2 percent, compared with the same month a year earlier. For 2011 through July, 25,983 boats have been sold in the popular segment, 1.2 percent below the 2010 pace.

The year-over-year sales data are from 27 early reporting states that comprise about 66 percent of the national market.

Sales of PWC fell 5.3 percent, to 4,725 units, compared with 4,990 in the same month a year earlier. Through July, PWC sales have fallen 10 percent on 17,127 units.

The aluminum market was a bright spot in July, as it has been in most months this year. Sales rose 4.8 percent as 5,866 boats were sold, compared with 5,600 in July 2010. The pontoon market had another solid month with an 8.7 percent sales gain. For the year through July, pontoon sales are up 9.7 percent on 11,878 boats. Michigan, Texas and North Carolina have led the growth in pontoon sales. Sales of fishing boats rose 1.8 percent for the month.

Sailboats and ski boats sales saw the steepest declines in July on relatively light volume, dropping 17.3 percent (172 units) and 11.6 percent (482 units), respectively. Sales of jet boats were also lower, falling 7.3 percent (358 units). Deckboats led the growth in July for fiberglass, increasing 15.2 percent on 378 units.

July represents 13 to 15 percent of annual retail volume on a calendar-year basis.

This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue.

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