Dealers got a dose of good news in May as sales of fiberglass boats in the popular 14- to 30-foot category rose 7 percent from the same month last year and sales of aluminum boats rose 12.8 percent.
Across the entire fiberglass market, including personal watercraft, sales rose a nominal 0.1 percent for the month.
The year-over-year data are from 28 early reporting states that represent about 70 percent of the national market. Gains, particularly in Gulf of Mexico coastal states, compare with the period of slumping sales that followed the oil spill in April 2010.
However, May represents the first peak-season month in three years in which key Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, including Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina and South Carolina, saw sales growth in the fiberglass segment when all lengths of boats are considered. Florida and California also saw overall growth in fiberglass sales.
Within the aluminum segment, sales of fishing boats rose 9.8 percent for the month and sales of pontoon boats rose 17.4 percent. Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Georgia led the growth in pontoon sales. Sales in the segment through May were up 8.1 percent from a year earlier in the early reporting states.
In the 14- to 30-foot category, 60 percent of the early reporting states listed sales growth in May, although sales in the segment were still down 2.6 percent through the first five months of the year.
Sales of PWC fell 7.6 percent for the month. Of the top 10 early reporting states in PWC sales volume, only Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and South Carolina saw growth in May. PWC sales were down 14.2 percent through May in the early reporting states.
Other fiberglass segments followed the favorable trend of the 14- to 30-foot market. Sales of jet boats rose 16.9 percent, sales of sailboats rose 13.4 percent, sales of ski boats were up 10.3 percent and sales of deckboats were up 7.3 percent.
May represents 15 to 16 percent of total annual retail volume on a calendar-year basis.
This article originally appeared in the August 2011 issue.