Rate of new-boat sales decline slows in July

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Volume in aluminum craft, PWC runs stronger, with some states actually reporting gains

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There’s a bit of good news for a change. July early-release data on new-boat registrations show a slower rate of decline, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.

The early-release report is intended to give the marine industry a snapshot of new-boat sales activity. These statistics for July include information from 26 early reporting states, which represent approximately 60 percent of the national market.

Fiberglass boats in the popular lengths of 14 to 30 feet were down 31.9 percent in this preliminary data. Continued adjustments in Florida and California were buffered by stability in Texas, and growth in Mississippi and North Dakota.

Aluminum boat sales declines were more moderate in July, dropping 17.7 percent. Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and West Virginia all reported stronger growth in the period, compared to the year-over-year total for all reporting states.

Sales of personal watercraft fell 17.5 percent in the month. Double-digit growth in Texas, New York, Arkansas, North Dakota and Mississippi helped support this segment, while the majority of states posted declines.

The aluminum and PWC markets show that some areas are faring better than others. The slower rate of decline in all segments is a good sign, but retail registrations are still contracting.

This market is redefining the concept of “being aggressive” for dealers and manufacturers across the country.

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Final new-boat sales figures for the second quarter will be published in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.

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 October 2008 issue.

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