Not too hot and not too cold — just like typical early spring weather in much of the country — recreational boat sales continued to make moderate gains in March.
Sales rose 7.2 percent, to 8,826, in the main powerboat segments, led by small to mid-size outboard fiberglass boats and aluminum fishing and pontoon boats, and they climbed by an identical percentage, to 12,372 boats industrywide, in 27 states that represent about 66 percent of the market, Statistical Surveys reports.
Sales were flat last March in the main segments and they rose just 2.5 percent across the industry.
This year, through March, sales are up 7.5 percent in the main segments and 5.8 percent industrywide in the early-reporting states. At the end of March last year, sales were up just 1.2 percent for the year across the industry.
“The trend starts early this year, with aluminum fishing boats and pontoons and fiberglass outboards,” says Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe. “It’s a great early start to the season. You might be seeing some of the registrations [from sales at winter boat shows].”
Florida (2,712) and Texas (1,724) were the sales leaders among the early-reporting states, followed by Michigan (956), North Carolina (850) and Minnesota (704). The rest of the top 10 were South Carolina (535), Arkansas (478), Washington (396), California (390) and Ohio (372).
Fiberglass outboards were the industry’s top-selling category this March. Sales in the segment, a post-recession leader, totaled 3,296 boats, up 12.3 percent from the same month last year. Sales of aluminum pontoon boats climbed 6.8 percent, to 1,763, and fishing-boat sales rose 5.3 percent, to 2,646.
The industry’s second-highest-selling category was personal watercraft. Sales totaled 1,825 in March, a gain of 13.1 percent from a year earlier.
Among the bigger-boat categories, sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers rose by nine, to 95, and sales of custom and semicustom yachts of 63 to 99 feet rose by 10, to 24. Sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts fell by four, to 50, but sales in all three of the big-boat categories are higher by double-digit percentages through March in the early-reporting states.
Sales of ski boats rose by 36, or 11.5 percent, for the month, to 348, and jetboat sales climbed 4.1 percent, or nine, to 229.
Sailboat sales rose by 16, or 10.8 percent, to 164.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue.