Tow boats lead growth in November

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Tow boats continued to outpace sales

Tow boats continued to outpace sales

Boat sales were up 3.7 percent in the main powerboat categories and 3.5 percent overall year-to-date in November, despite a drop in number of registrations year-over-year for the month.

The 4.9 percent year-over-year decline in the main powerboat segments and the 3.2 percent drop in all registrations was due a strong November 2017, said Ryan Kloppe, sales director at Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan firm that tracks new boat registrations.

“November 2017 was up 7.7 percent,” Kloppe told Trade Only Today. “That’s tough comp, especially when you’re talking about November numbers. When you’re dealing with such low units, those numbers can swing dramatically by just a few hundred boats.”

Almost all categories were down for the month year over year, according to preliminary data from 30 states, which amounts to 63 percent of the U.S. boat market.

“It’s probably not the best closing that everybody was hoping for, but to review, we’re still on pace for that 3.5 to 4 percent overall growth for the year, after seven years of growth,” said Kloppe.

It was another month of strong growth in the ski and wake segment, which was up 8.6 percent over last year and up nearly 10 percent year-to-date with 177 boats registered for the month.

That category is poised to take over the sterndrive segment in terms of unit sales if the growth continues at a double-digit clip. In comparison, there were fewer than 10,300 sterndrive-powered boats registered as of November 2018 for the year, versus 10,147 tow boats.

Pontoon sales were up 3.7 percent and on track to be up about 5 percent for the year.

PWC registrations also continued to climb, with 10.4 percent increase over last year and an 8 percent hike year-to-date over last year, with more than 67,000 units sold for the year thus far.

Kloppe was relatively unconcerned about the decline in most other categories — aluminum fishing boats saw a 2.8 percent dip in the month, and outboard fiberglass segment, which has declined for several months in a row, was off nearly 10 percent from November last year.

That segment is positioned to grow more modestly than in past years, with 1.8 percent year-to-date growth.

Cruisers 31 to 40 feet were down 9.8 percent for November, and down 8.1 percent for the year thus far, though large yachts 66 feet and above grew 57 percent for the month, from seven to 11 units.

Sterndrives continued to slide 5.7 percent for the month and 4.6 percent for the year, but Kloppe pointed out that the segment was still growing above 20 feet at 3.5 percent in November — the 18- and 19-foot part of that segment was down 45 percent for the month.

“I think those are the boats are getting completely replaced with outboards,” said Kloppe. “Builders are hardly making those, so there is growth inside that segment that we’ve seen this year.”


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