April registrations up 2.7 percent

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Pontoons, ski and wake boats, and personal watercraft led boat registrations in April once again, with each posting solid gains of 10 percent, 8.1 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively.

Year-over-year growth was 0.4 percent in the main powerboat categories, and -3.8 percent year-to-date, according to preliminary data from Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan firm that gathered data from 30 states representing more than 60 percent of the U.S. boat market.

That was on top of a solid comparison last April, when the main powerboat categories were up 4 percent year-over-year, SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe told Trade Only Today.

“There’s some good segment growth and hopefully this will give us a little lift until the weather gets nice and we come into the big selling months,” said Kloppe. “They’re here.”

PWCs saw a 14.7 percent jump in registrations, breaking 5,000 sold for the month.

Offsetting strong gains in pontoons, outboard fiberglass (2.6 percent) and tow boats was a 10.5 percent decline in aluminum fishing boats, perhaps due to bad weather around parts of the country that has included flooding, tornadoes and chilly rain.

“The aluminum fish [decline] was interesting,” said Kloppe. “The majority of those are sold in the north, and the weather has obviously not been ideal for the kickoff of the marine season.”

Cruisers and yachts, though small in numbers, declined sharply. Registrations for yachts 41 to 65 feet was almost half, from 82 yachts last year to 42 this year.

Florida led states for registrations with 3,880, down from 3,988 in April 2018. The following four states — Texas (2,723), Michigan (2,190), North Carolina (1,441) and Alabama (1,167) — all saw gains.

Despite unfavorable weather, retail trends accelerated through April, wrote Wells Fargo senior analyst Tim Conder, who pointed out that these months account for only 31 percent of annual sales.

“Wholesale channel inventories appear to have seasonally peaked at the end of March … with aging at historical lows, but year-over-year turns [are] slightly lower,” wrote Conder. “Channel inventories are currently NOT an issue, but MUST be actively managed through the key second-quarter, summer retail season to avoid materially elevating the risk of an issue during the off-season heading into 2020.”


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