New boat registrations in the main powerboat categories for February were down 9.5 percent year to date and 6.2 compared to the same period a year ago.
Preliminary data from 28 states represents about 56.6 percent of the market, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan firm that tracks national registration data.
Aluminum fish and fiberglass outboards were off in double digits for the month — 11.8 percent and 12.4 percent respectively — and pontoons declined 9.2 percent.
“Obviously it’s a sluggish start,” said SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe. “It’s hard to pinpoint one thing, but I’m sure having the polar vortex in half the country didn’t really scream, ‘Let’s go buy a new boat.’”
Sterndrive boats had their first positive month in a long time, with 4.7 percent growth. Same with sail, which grew 36.7 percent (though the two-month total for January and February was still behind last year’s sailboat registrations, said Kloppe).
Ski and wake boats had another positive month, gaining 11.6 percent over February 2018, and larger boats also had some growth.
“The thing to remember is that January and February combined are only 5 percent of the market,” said Kloppe. “There are some positives in there, some growth in certain segments. We’ve seen seven years in a row of growth on growth, and we’re predicting another moderate growth year.”
Michigan, typically an early-reporting state, had computer issues and didn’t have its preliminary registration data ready for the month, said Kloppe. Given the arctic weather in the state, that data might not move the needle much.