September sales fall, but turn could be near

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Boat sales in September fell 18 percent, with two regions showing  growth.

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The East South Central region posted a 19.7 percent increase, while the West North Central region grew 5.5 percent. The Pacific region again was hardest hit, with a 51.9 percent decline.

For the 12-month rolling time frame, the East North Central Region has posted a 9.1 percent increase. Year to date, the East North Central Region has also posted growth, increasing 9.9 percent. In September, that region dipped 6.3 percent.

The year-to-date rate of decline is at 13.2 percent - up 0.4 percent.

Sailboat sales were up 47.1 percent nationally on 100 units and, on the aluminum side, fishing boats were up 7 percent on 2,060 units.

These numbers represent the entire fiberglass and aluminum markets, including personal watercraft, from 26 early reporting states - about 65 percent of the national market. The Coast Guard Documented Vessels file was not included because of data entry delays, meaning the declines could be overstated.

Once the Coast Guard data is added, the regional sales numbers could improve a little more in the big-boat segments. With positive news from the South Atlantic and Pacific regions in fiberglass, the industry could begin to see the total boat market turn.

The growth in sailboats and aluminum fishing boats shows that some segments are firming up and should be ready to grow at wholesale moving into fourth quarter and beyond.

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 issue.

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