A year ago in June, sales of new recreational boats were bouncing back after falling virtually flat during April and May.
Sales in the main powerboat segments rose 8.9 percent and industrywide sales climbed 10.2 percent from the same month in 2015 in 24 early-reporting states.
That performance proved tough to beat when June rolled around this year. Sales of new boats last month edged up 1.8 percent in the main segments to 16,464 boats and 1.5 percent industrywide to 28,866 from the same month last year in 27 states that represent about 57 percent of the U.S. boat market, Statistical Surveys reported today.
“It was a tough comparable,” Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said. “We had double-digit growth in some categories in June last year.”
Sales of aluminum pontoon boats rose 14.6 percent last June and sales of ski and wake boats rose 11.6 percent. Sales of fiberglass outboard boats from 11 to to 50 feet rose 8.9 percent.
For 2017 through June, sales are up 3.4 percent at 91,102 in the main segments and 3.5 percent at 136,329 industrywide in the early-reporting states, putting the industry on a pace to sell more than 270,000 new boats this year. Sales last year topped 250,000 for the first time since 2008, just ahead of the Great Recession.
The first-half growth has fallen short of forecasts for a 2017 sales increase of 4 to 6 percent. Kloppe said the industry probably will need a strong finish to the summer selling season in July, August, and September to achieve the anticipated gains.
Sales fell in July last year — 7 percent in the main segments and 5.7 percent industrywide in 28 early-reporting states — and Kloppe is optimistic that the industry will have better July results this year. He said 2017 has been marked by “moderate, steady sales growth.”
“We haven’t had the peaks and valleys we had last year,” he said.
Three categories — outboard fiberglass boats, ski and wake boats and aluminum pontoon boats — had a solid June this year, posting sales gains ranging from 3 percent to nearly 9 percent, but the results in other high-volume categories, such as aluminum fishing boats and personal watercraft, were nearly flat.
Sales of 11- to 50-foot outboard fiberglass boats rose 5 percent to 5,404 and sales of aluminum pontoon boats rose 3.3 percent to 5,574. Both segments have been among the leaders as the industry recovered from recession lows.
Conversely, aluminum fishing boat sales fell by 24, or 0.8 percent, to 3,009, and PWC sales rose by just 41, or 0.4 percent, to 9,420.
Sales of outboard fiberglass boats, aluminum pontoon and fishing boats and PWC are on a pace to exceed 50,000 this year.
Sales of inboard and sterndrive boats, which have struggled since the recession ended, fell 12.9 percent to 1,138 in June and they are down 8.2 percent at 5,491 for the year through June.
Sales of jetboats fell by 11 to 600, but they are up 7.7 percent at 2,589 for the year through June in the early-reporting states.
Seven of the top 10 states recorded more sales than they did in June last year.
Florida topped the early-reporting states with 4,400, although the total was down slightly from 4,432 in June last year; Michigan ranked second with 3,569 (up from 3,436); Texas was third with 3,426 (up from 3,235); New York was fourth with 1,950 (down from 2,428); and North Carolina was fifth with 1,904 (up from 1,769).
The rest of the top 10 were California with 1,518 (up from 1,369); Ohio with 1,410 (up from 1,080); Alabama with 1,321 (down from 1,365); South Carolina with 1,299 (up from 1,229); and New Jersey with 1,165 (up from 1,127).
The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing complete figures in the bigger-boat categories. Sales fell in two of those segments. In the 31- to 40-foot cruiser category, sales dropped by 20 to 142 and in the 41- to 65-foot yacht segment sales were down by 27 at 82.
Sales of 66-foot and larger semicustom and custom yachts rose by three to 15.
Sailboat sales fell by 89 to 170 and they are down 38.8 percent at 762 through June in the early-reporting states.