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Sales decline slows in New England, Pacific

With the early release report for September, we are presenting the preliminary reporting states in a new regional format. This snapshot represents the entire fiberglass and aluminum market, including personal watercraft. Retail units and a two-year percentage change calculation based on four time periods are included to provide insight into the prevailing retail trends.

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Twelve months rolling backward from September 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.

Reading the bar chart from left to right helps identify the overall industry trend as it applies to your region. For example, the industry "All" is improving; the bars are highlighting smaller declines as the time periods shorten from a year ago (12 months rolling) to the current month. The percentage change chart shows September declines were 0.7 of a percent greater than the quarter (21 percent - 20.3 percent = 0.7 percent), but the third quarter trend is improving from a 26 percent year-to-date decline. The bar chart helps visualize the trends, and the data table summarizes the unit volume and the percentage change from the prior year.

Keeping in mind that some regions may have fewer early reporting states than others, the following general trends can be summarized: The Pacific and New England regions showed the smallest declines for the month, dropping 1.5 percent and 18.4 percent, respectively. The Mountain region was hit hardest of all regions in September, with a 44.9 percent decline.

Third-quarter declines were the steepest in the East North Central, Mountain and New England regions, ranging from 31.3 to 31.5 percent year-to-date. The Mountain region was leading the market contraction with a 39.5 percent decline, while the West North Central region declined by 20 percent. Finally, reviewing the 12-month rolling time period, the West North Central Region was faring the best, with a 19 percent decline. As the market begins to recover, the 12-month rolling time period will overstate the declines because of the influence from more extreme rates of change from the prior 12 months.

The new regional format helps generalize the trends from the preliminary states and also provides a different and possibly healthier perspective of the national marine market as a whole.

These statistics include 28 early reporting states that represent approximately 64 percent of the national market.

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 December 2009 issue.

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