Boat sales down again in March

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Sales of fiberglass boats, including personal watercraft, fell 9.5 percent in March, matching the rate of decline in the same month a year earlier.

Personal watercraft sales fell 13 percent for the month, compared with a decline of 10.5 percent in March 2010. The figures are from 31 early reporting states that represent about 69 percent of the national market.

Sales of fiberglass boats in the popular 14- to 30-foot segment fell 6.2 percent for the month, compared with a decline of 13.8 percent a year earlier.

Aluminum boat sales rose 2.8 percent for the month; pontoon boats rose 5.8 percent, and fishing boats rose 1.7 percent. Last year, the metal segment fell 10.3 percent overall in March.

Sales of jet boats rose 11.9 percent for the month; the sailboat and ski boat categories fell 10.3 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.

March historically represents 9 to 10 percent of annual retail boat volume.

The overall market appears to be improving, but not at the rate that most builders and dealers would prefer to see as the industry moves into the spring selling season.

Documented vessels aren't included in this data because of entry delays at the Coast Guard. For that reason, percentage declines of all fiberglass boats, including PWCs, could be slightly overstated. Only states that provide weekly or monthly information are included.

— Aarn Rosen

National Marine Sales Manager

Statistical Surveys Inc.

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