2020 On Track for More Than 300,000 Boat Registrations

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Pontoons were up 48 percent for the month.

Pontoons were up 48 percent for the month.

New boat registrations in October were up 9.5 percent in the main categories year to date, building on summer’s boat-buying frenzy, and were up 28.1 percent year over year, according to preliminary data from Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan firm that tracks new boat registrations.

“Every single segment is positive,” SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe told Trade Only Today, adding that even the challenged house- and sailboat segments were up for October: Six houseboats were registered in October versus in 1 in same period in 2019, and sailboats saw 71 sales, up from 69 when compared to last October. (However, sailboat sales are off 22.5 percent for the year.)

“Florida and Texas are up big. Pontoons are up 48 percent,” said Kloppe. “The needle probably won’t move too much more with just November and December left, but I still think there’s pent-up demand there. I think we’re going to see the numbers keep going in that direction.”

Preliminary data from 32 states — accounting for nearly 60 percent of the industry —showed that boat sales trajectory continued.

Preliminary data from 32 states — accounting for nearly 60 percent of the industry —showed that boat sales trajectory continued.

Florida, the No. 1 state, posted nearly a 21 percent gain over October 2019, from 2,352 boats to 2,842, and No. 2 Texas leapt more than 47 percent, registering 1,710 for the month, versus 1,161 last year.

Manufacturers have been building boats that are already sold, and therefore can’t rebuild the depleted inventory for dealers that continue to scramble for new product, even in the fall, said Kloppe.

“Every boat that is coming off the pipeline is basically sold,” said Kloppe. “That tells me that in 2021, there’s going to be some carryover from this year.”

The industry is poised to hit the 300,000 mark this year for the first time since 2007, said Kloppe.

Numbers prior to the Great Recession — from which the marine industry never fully recovered in terms of unit sales (although it surpassed pre-recession highs in terms of dollars spent in recent years) — were close to 400,000, said Kloppe.

Year-to-date growth for the industry overall was 6.4 percent, and 24.8 percent year over year.

PWCs, which are among the total industry segments, were up 14.5 percent (to 1,443 from 1,260) after a brief dip, a sign that that segment had been able to ramp up inventory as demand continues.

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