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April boat sales up 4.1 percent in main categories

Despite a chilly, wet spring in much of the country, some segments did well in April.

Despite a chilly, wet spring in much of the country, some segments did well in April.

Sales of new yachts and aluminum fishing boats helped bolster overall new boat sales in April, while sales in segments including pontoons reflected a chilly, wet spring across much of the country.

Preliminary data from Statistical Surveys Inc., which measured boat registrations from 30 early-reporting states accounting for about 57.8 percent of the U.S. market, showed that sales were up 1.4 percent in all categories and were up 4.1 percent in the main powerboat categories.

“I think what most people are going to see right off the bat is that pontoons were down a little bit for the first time,” SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe told Trade Only Today on Tuesday.

But pontoon sales thrive in the Midwest, Kloppe said, pointing out that his home state of Michigan leads the segment in sales.

“Today it is 65 and rainy and yesterday it was 56 and rainy,” said Kloppe. “So if you have a pontoon that you’ve bought, you probably haven’t even registered it. When May numbers come, you’ll see another lull because the weather is so bad this year.”

That said, there were some performing categories, said Kloppe.

Aluminum fishing boat registrations grew 14 percent, from 3,462 to 3,968, data showed.

Sales of cruisers 31 to 40 feet, yachts 41 to 65 feet, and large yachts 66 feet and above were all up dramatically.

“Larger boats are up quite a bit this go-round,” said Kloppe. “Larger boats are smaller in units, but big in dollars as you know.”

The cruiser segment grew 38.8 percent over April 2017, from 80 to 111; yacht sales jumped 102.6 percent, from 39 last year to 70 this year; and registrations of yachts 66 feet and above went from seven in April 2017 to 18 last April, accounting for a 157 percent increase.

Sailboats also saw an increase, from 94 sold in April 2017 to 117 sold April this year, accounting for a 24.5 percent increase.

And pointing out the silver lining of the rainy spring, Kloppe said that lakes will be nice and full when the weather does finally warm up.

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