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Second quarter new boat sales down sharply

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Sales of new boats continued to drop in the second quarter of 2008. The total fiberglass segment, including personal watercraft, fell 29 percent and aluminum sales were off 20.7 percent.

The numbers here are based on registration data from 48 states, with two not reporting. The numbers comprise 99 percent of the U.S. boat market.

The 14-foot-and-up fiberglass segment declined by 31.2 percent on sales of 43,468 boats. Bass Cat was one of the only brands to show growth in the quarter.

Market share leaders for the 14-foot-plus segment in the second quarter of 2008 were: Brunswick Marine Group at 18.5 percent, Genmar Industries with 13.5, Tracker Marine with 7.3 percent, Yamaha at 4.4 and Carolina Skiff at 3.1 percent.

The sterndrive boat segment (all lengths) continued to decline for the period, dropping 35 percent on 35,888 units.

Market share leaders for sterndrives were Brunswick Marine Group at 34.3 percent, Genmar Industries with 15.3 percent, Tracker Marine at 9.1 percent, Marine Products at 7.5 percent and Crownline with 5.2 percent.
The deck boat segment posted the steepest decline for the period, falling 37.4 percent on 3,391 units. Brands with the greatest growth in market share year-to-date were: Godfrey Marine, Tahoe, Bayliner, Crownline, Nautic Star, Glastron and Regal.

Thirty-feet-plus fiberglass boats fell 22.4 percent. The builders with even or positive unit growth were Grady-White, Jeanneau, Intrepid, Boston Whaler, Pursuit, Bavaria Yachts, Everglades, Crownline and Jupiter Marine.
Sales of aluminum boats also fell in the quarter by 20.7 percent, to 42,674 units. Similar to the first quarter, the aluminum segment was less affected for the period than fiberglass.

Aluminum market share leaders were Tracker Marine with 18.5 percent of the market, Brunswick at 19.5, Alumacraft at 9.2 percent, Yamaha (G3) with 5.2, and Nautic Global Group at 4.8 percent.

The PWC market was down 28.6 percent in the quarter on sales of 26,261 units. Market leaders were Bombardier Sea-Doo with 42.2 percent, Yamaha Wave Runner at 33.4 percent, Kawasaki Jet Ski at 15.2 percent and Honda with 9.2 percent.

Second-quarter boat sales reflected the uncertainty prevalent in our current economic conditions. This market contraction is greater than anticipated for the period. Manufacturers are responding admirably, by downsizing and increasing the pace of product innovations.

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 November 2008 issue.

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