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3Q boat sales flat as Irma hurts results in Florida

Hurricane Irma limited sales of new recreational boats in Florida in September and that was a key factor as the industry’s third-quarter results were flat, compared with the same period in 2016.

The industry sold 75,038 boats in this year’s quarter in 48 states that represent about 98 percent of the U.S. boat market, down 10 from 75,048 last year, Statistical Surveys said today. Only Maine and Maryland are not included.

Sales, however, were up 3.8 percent on a 12-month-rolling basis through September and Ryan Kloppe, sales director at Statistical Surveys, said sales, excluding Florida, were 4 percent higher in the third quarter.

“The targeted growth for the industry [for 2017] was 4 to 6 percent, and the industry sustained that,” minus Florida, he said.

For the 12-month period that ended in September, the industry sold 264,623 boats, up 9,662 from 254,961 in the previous 12-month period. During calendar year 2016 the industry sold 258,879 boats, an increase of 5.4 percent.

Sales were up 3.9 percent industrywide in October in 32 early-reporting states, and November figures are due out next week.

Kloppe said he believes the industry will end the year with sales growth of 4 percent.

“Q4 does not move the needle much, being the lightest quarter,” he said.

Sales in the main powerboat segments were up 3.8 percent in the third quarter this year, rising by 786, to 45,516, from 44,730 in the year-earlier period.

Among the high-volume categories in the main segments, outboard fiberglass boats were the top-selling category with sales of 13,297, although that was only 0.7 percent, or 91 boats more than 2016 sales of 13,206.

On a percentage basis, aluminum fishing boats fared best as sales rose 3.6 percent, or 410, to 11,879, and aluminum pontoons were right behind with a gain of 3 percent, or 395, to 13,740.

Sales of ski and wake boats rose 3 percent, or 81, to 2,816.

However, sales of 14- to 30-foot fiberglass bowriders and deck boats fell 5.8 percent, or 195, to 3,141.

On an industrywide basis, personal watercraft outsold all other categories. Sales totaled 21,926, although that was a decline of 1.3 percent, or 84, from the prior-year period. In another category outside the main segments, sales of jetboats fell 2.2 percent, or 34, to 1,516.

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing complete figures in the bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by 14, to 375, but sales of 41-to 65-foot yachts rose by 14, to 224, and sales of 66-foot and larger custom and semicustom yachts rose by four, to 44.

Sailboat sales fell by 21.8 percent, or 129, to 464.

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