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Analysis shows aluminum boats leading a recovery

A noticeable shift has occurred in the new-boat sales market during the last few years, according to two interactive maps produced by Info-Link.

The first map illustrates the relative concentration of all fiberglass and aluminum boats nationwide, broken down by county and size.

More than half of all powerboats registered in the United States are fiberglass and concentrations remain the highest along saltwater coastlines, according to Jack Ellis, managing director at Info-Link Technologies Inc., a Florida-based firm that tracks marine statistics.

Click here for a regional breakdown of registered powerboats by hull type.

“What is interesting is that until about 2007 new-boat sales followed a similar pattern, with fiberglass accounting for between 55 percent and 60 percent of annual powerboat sales,” Ellis told Soundings Trade Only. “As the market began to slowly recover, aluminum boats quickly took over the top spot. By calendar year 2011, 58 percent of all powerboat purchases were aluminum.”

Click here for a breakdown of new recreational powerboat sales from 2002-2011.

Aluminum builders, especially pontoon boat builders, quickly learned that less is sometimes more, Ellis said. During the last few years, more buyers evidently opted for a lower-cost option to get on the water.

“Perhaps companies serving the fiberglass market, which is considerably larger from a total revenue standpoint, can learn from this,” Ellis said. “Many of today’s buyers may be more interested in the boating experience rather than the bells and whistles — including larger engines — more often found on fiberglass boats.”

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