Registrations in the main powerboat categories grew 0.8 percent in August versus the same month last year, but were still down 5.1 percent year-to-date in those high-volume segments.
However, data from Statistical Surveys Inc., which accounted for 26 early-reporting states and approximately 48 percent of the overall U.S. market, did not include Florida, as the state continues to face challenges gathering registration data. The company said this omission could skew the initial results.
By August, the industry has a good handle on overall registrations for the year, since historically about 78 percent of sales are made by that month; however, omitting Florida means there could be room for fluctuation, said SSI director Ryan Kloppe.
“If Florida has a good month, obviously that can steer an upward trend,” Kloppe told Trade Only Today. “As far as making predictions, I would wait to see. You’ve got to see Florida, which will hopefully be in by next month when they catch up.”
Overall registrations for the month were off 0.7 percent versus August 2018, and down 3.6 percent year-over-year. But there had been segment growth month-over-month, Kloppe pointed out.
“Obviously we had some growth in there — year-over-year comparisons [in the main powerboat categories] are about a percent up,” said Kloppe. “We saw some growth in pontoons and fiberglass outboards, some of the mainstays of growth, as well as ski and wake.”
Pontoon registrations grew 7.4 percent compared to August last year, but were still down 3.5 percent year-to-date, signaling that some boaters delayed purchases after a cold and wet spring — particularly in big pontoon states like Michigan — but didn’t cover ground lost in the historically highest-volume selling months.
Fiberglass outboard boats grew 4.1 percent for the month compared to August 2018, and were off 1.9 percent year-over-year — something that could change when Florida data is included.
For the main powerboat segments, ski and wake boats were the only category that saw year-to-date growth at 2.9 percent; the category was up 3.3 percent during the month over August last year.
PWCs were the only other category to experience year-to-date growth, up 3.6 percent, and edged up 0.3 percent year-over-year.
Yachts 66 feet and above had a good month, growing to 12 units in August versus 4 units in August 2018.
“While we always talk about the fact that there’s not much unit volume in larger boats, there are some big dollar values since they’re a big-ticket item,” said Kloppe.
Aluminum fishing boats continued their downward trajectory, dropping 8.7 percent year-over-year and down 10.4 percent year-to-date. Sterndrive and inboard boats between 14 and 30 feet also dragged overall registration numbers, down 11.1 percent year-over-year and 10.6 percent for the month versus August 2018.
Generally, a slight softening might be occurring, but it’s nothing unique to boating, as industries like RV have also seen the same trend, said Kloppe.
“If you look at state year-over-year comparisons, some of them are down, but it’s nothing to write home about,” said Kloppe. “Overall, sales are also down less than they were — they were off 5 percent, but now they’re down 3.6 percent overall.”