Third-quarter sales decline affects every boating segment

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Sales of new boats continued to drop in the third quarter of 2008. The total fiberglass segment, including personal watercraft, fell 31.6 percent, while aluminum sales were off 25.6 percent.

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The information here is based on registration data from 47 states, which make up 99 percent of the U.S. boat market.

The closely watched 14-foot-and-up fiberglass segment declined by 36.6 percent on sales of 27,650 boats. Market share leaders for the 14-plus-foot segment in the quarter were Brunswick Marine Group (18.8 percent), Genmar Industries (11.9 percent), Tracker Marine (7.1 percent), Yamaha  (4.5 percent) and Carolina Skiff (3.3 percent).

Large boats were hard hit, too. The 30-plus-foot fiberglass market fell 37.3 percent on sales of 1,921 units.

Builders that showed positive unit growth for the period were Jeanneau, Four Winns and Crownline.

Sales of aluminum boats also fell in the quarter on sales of 24,133 units. This represented a 25.6 percent drop for the quarter. Aluminum market share leaders were Tracker Marine with 19.2 percent, Brunswick Boat Group (17.3 percent), Alumacraft (8.9 percent) and Nautic Global Group at 4.5 percent.

The PWC market was down 27.2 percent in the quarter on sales of 22,638 units. Market share leaders were Bombardier Sea-Doo with 44.9 percent, Yamaha Wave Runner at 31.5 percent, Kawasaki Jet Ski (14.7 percent) and Honda (8.9 percent).

The deckboat segment posted the steepest decline for the period, falling 47.9 percent on sales of 1,960 units. Regal Boats was the only brand to expand sales in this segment, showing 21.1 percent growth for the quarter and 61.2 percent growth year-to-date on 79 units.

Ski/wakeboard boats were not immune from the bear market cycle. Sales were down 33.2 percent on 2,580 units. The segment was 27.8 percent down year-to-date on 7,977 units.

Third-quarter boat sales for 2008 are well below any levels seen in prior years. Small aluminum utility-boat sales and higher-end pontoons have kept the aluminum market tracking above the fiberglass segments.

In fiberglass, deckboats and sterndrive boats continue to take the brunt of this down market.

This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue.

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