A record year for boat sales

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association reported that U.S. powerboat sales were about 276,000 units in 2018, up 4 percent over the previous year. The trade association said that was the highest level of sales in 11 years. An NMMA representative told Trade Only Today that the numbers included personal watercraft sales and that the association would release “traditional powerboat” sales figures next week.

Marine expenditures, spending on boats, engines, trailers, accessories and related services, according to the data, were at an all-time high of $42 billion, up 7 percent from 2017.

“Sales of new boats and boating expenditures have been on a consistent upward climb for eight years, with some segments reaching pre-recession sales volumes,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president in a statement released to mainstream media before Memorial Day weekend.

Outboard boat sales were up 3 percent to 177,600 units in 2018. This category represents 85 percent of new traditional powerboats sold, according to the data.

In other categories: Personal watercraft sales rose 8 percent to 69,000 units. Wakesport boat sales rose 10 percent to 10,500 units. Cruiser (22 to 32 feet) sales were up 3 percent to 9,000 units. Jet boat sales were up 4 percent to 5,900 units. The NMMA said an estimated 976,200 pre-owned boats sold in 2018, down 1 percent from 2017.

Recreational boating contributes an estimated $170.3 billion in economic activity to the U.S. economy, an increase of about $49 billion since the last time the association reported economic impact in 2012. Nearly 12 million boats were registered and documented in the U.S. in 2017. The NMMA said that 62 percent of boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.

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