Gains that spread beyond aluminum fishing boats and pontoons and fiberglass outboards to bigger-boat segments gave the U.S. recreational boating industry a strong single-digit sales increase in the first quarter.
Sales in the main powerboat segments rose 7.2 percent to 25,956 and industrywide sales climbed 5.9 percent to 35,904 in 46 states that represent about 96 percent of the nation’s boat market, Statistical Surveys reported today. The only states not included in the data were Maine and Hawaii, which only report sales annually, and Oregon and Illinois.
Industry analysts have been predicting a 2015 boat sales gain in the range of 6 percent to 8 percent.
“We’re definitely on pace for that,” Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe said.
All but one of the main segments — inboard and sterndrive boats — showed improvement as the industry achieved a much stronger early spring selling season than it did last year. In 2014 sales rose only about 1 percent for the quarter in the main segments and 2.5 percent industrywide.
“It was a much better spring around the country this year,” Kloppe said.
Florida, as usual, led the nation in overall sales, with 6,153, followed by Texas (3,635), Louisiana (1,930), Minnesota (1,545) and North Carolina (1,486).
Rounding out the top 10 were Georgia (1,421), Missouri (1,363), Michigan (1,300), Wisconsin (1,281) and Alabama (1,075).
Helped by the early start of the fishing season in many states, sales of aluminum fishing boats rose 9.9 percent to 8,788. Louisiana led the country in sales in that segment, followed by Texas, Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Sales of aluminum pontoon boats rose 8.7 percent to 5,066. Florida was the leader in that segment, followed by Minnesota, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin.
Sales of 11- to 40-foot outboard fiberglass boats rose 7.2 percent to 8,922 boats, but three bigger-boat categories that have been inconsistent during the industry’s recovery from the Great Recession also showed improved results for the quarter.
Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers rose by 20 to 263; sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts climbed by 26 to 175; and sales of 63- to 99-foot semicustom and custom yachts increased by 16 to 63.
“We’re seeing some of the bigger boats rise,” Kloppe said. “Those aren’t big numbers, but it is nice to see these increases year over year and quarter over quarter.
Sales of ski boats, jetboats and personal watercraft achieved single-digit sales gains.
Ski-boat sales rose 9.2 percent to 974. Texas led the way in that segment, followed by California, Michigan, Minnesota and Florida.
Sales of jetboats climbed 9.7 percent to 634. Florida was the leader, followed by Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Sales of PWC increased 7.4 percent to 4,658. Florida again was the leader, followed by Texas, Missouri, Michigan and Georgia.
Sailboat sales were flat for the quarter at 451.