Sales of fiberglass boats, including personal watercraft, fell 6.4 percent in January from the same month last year in 31 early reporting states.
Sales of aluminum boats rose 8 percent in January from the same month last year. Fiberglass and aluminum sales combined fell 0.5 percent, to 3,267 units, for the month from 3,284 a year earlier.
Florida, Louisiana, Georgia and California - four of the top five states in retail volume for the month - reported year-over-year double-digit percentage increases in aluminum sales and single-digit increases or steady results in fiberglass sales. Texas saw double-digit percentage increases in both categories. Of the 31 states reporting, 39 percent showed sales growth in one or both categories.
January sales gains in Florida, California, Texas and Louisiana are developments the industry needed to see in order to find a market bottom and start to grow again.
On a 12-month rolling basis, the top five growth states in the aluminum market were Louisiana, Arkansas, Delaware, Michigan and New York. All but Louisiana saw declines in January, but all five showed sales growth over 12 months. Similar results can be expected in fiberglass sales as that segment of the industry continues to stabilize.
The early reporting states represent 69 percent of the national market. January accounts for 3 to 4 percent of total annual retail volume on a calendar-year basis. Documented vessels aren't included because of data entry delays at the Coast Guard.
This article originally appeared in the April 2011 issue.