Four regions reported positive growth in retail new-boat sales in November, according to early release numbers.
This snapshot represents the entire fiberglass and aluminum markets, including personal watercraft. These statistics include 29 early reporting states that represent approximately 63 percent of the national market. The percentage of change for November 2009 retail sales for the Pacific region is overstated because of data entry delays in California during 2008.
Reading the bar chart from left to right helps you identify the overall industry trend as it applies to your region. Twelve months rolling backward from November gives the most conservative perspective. Year-to-date numbers present a cumulative view of the trends, while quarterly and monthly numbers provide insight into standard calendar reporting time frames. Regional results might fluctuate over time because some regions have fewer early reporting states than others.
The following general trends can be summarized. The New England, East and West North Central, and East South Central regions all showed positive growth in November. The Pacific was the hardest-hit region, with a 40 percent decline. For the fourth quarter, the Mountain region dominated the market contraction with a 48.5 percent decline, while the New England region grew by 7.5 percent. Finally, reviewing the 12-month rolling time period, the West North Central region posted the smallest contractions, dropping about 20 percent.
The positive growth in many regions for the period is what we need to see to indicate that the market has bottomed out. Once the Pacific region stabilizes, we should begin to feel the benefits of the turning market. We can expect the year-end numbers for all boats, including personal watercraft, to be down between 20 and 40 percent, depending upon your region.
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 February 2010 issue.