Led by a 12 percent increase in sales of outboard-powered fiberglass boats, the recreational boat industry followed a strong January with moderate February growth that put sales for the year about 1 percent ahead of 2016.
Statistical Surveys said today that sales in the main powerboat segments rose 3.7 percent to 5,119 and climbed 4.4 percent industrywide to 7,202 from February 2016 in 26 states that represent about 59 percent of the U.S. boat market.
“It was a good month. Florida was up, Texas was up, North Carolina was up,” Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said. “All signs point to moderate growth.”
Sales rose 8 percent in the main segments and 9.5 percent industrywide in January. Through February, sales are up 6 percent in the main segments at 9,923 and 6.6 percent industrywide at 13,900.
Industry sales across all 50 states rose 5.7 percent in the main segments and 5.4 percent industrywide last year as the industry sold 258,879 boats, the most since 2008.
Florida was the top state for sales in February with 1,943 (up from 1,763 last February) and Texas was second at 1,405 (up from 1,377). Those were the only two states where more than 1,000 boats were sold during the month.
The No. 3 state was North Carolina at 608 (up from 439), followed by Alabama at 501 (up from 480); and Ohio at 307 (up from 276).
Rounding out the top 10 were Michigan at 303 (up from 223); Arkansas at 290 (down from 305); California at 239 (down from 345); Washington at 220 (down from 250); and Kentucky at 200 (up from 196).
Kloppe said the weather needs to get warmer before sales start to climb significantly in cold-weather states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut.
“Snowstorms delay boat sales,” he said.
Kloppe said a 6 percent increase in sales appears to be “the target for growth” in the industry this year.
“I think there’s no reason we can’t continue on that path,” he said.
As they did in January, fiberglass outboards outsold all other industry categories in February. Sales totaled 2,314, up 244, or 11.8 percent, from last February. Aluminum pontoon and fishing boats, two segments that also have produced strong results in recent years, did not fare as well.
Pontoon sales rose 3.2 percent to 871 boats and fishing-boat sales slipped 1.7 percent to 1,404. Sales of ski and wake boats, which have been a rising category, fell 12.7 percent to 185.
Sales of inboard and sterndrive boats continued to struggle, falling 12.2 percent to 245.
Sales of personal watercraft rose 7.1 percent to 1,045 and jetboat sales were up 6.3 percent at 134.
The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing complete figures for the month in the bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by two to 49. Sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts fell by four to 38; and sales of 66-foot and larger semicustom and custom yachts rose by five to 13.
Sailboat sales fell by 20 to 68 but are up 1.1 percent through February.