Boat sales increase 8.5 percent in 2014

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Led by four segments that topped 40,000 in sales, the recreational boating industry finished 2014 with moderate growth of 6 percent in the main powerboat segments and 8.5 percent industrywide.

Aluminum fishing and pontoon boats, small to midsized fiberglass outboards and personal watercraft were the top categories as the industry sold 226,494 boats nationwide last year, 17,804 more than it sold the previous year, Statistical Surveys reported today.

The “good, steady moderate growth” the industry achieved last year appears to be reachable again this year, barring unforeseen economic problems, Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe said.

“The pattern was established pretty early last year,” he added. “There were four segments that topped 40,000 units. That’s really great.”

Sales of fiberglass outboards rose 10.1 percent for the year to 42,693 boats. Aluminum fishing boats gained 6.4 percent to 41,965 and aluminum pontoons rose 5.8 percent to 41,143.

The industry enjoyed its third year in a row of sales that topped 200,000 as it continues its recovery from the Great Recession. Sales in 2013 were up 5.8 percent in the main segments and just 1.9 percent industrywide, finishing at 208,690, but the broader industry did better in 2014, in large part because of PWC sales, which climbed by 8,331, or 21.1 percent, to 47,864.

“People can afford the price points on those,” Kloppe said. “It’s pulling some people to the water who will hopefully transition down the road to a powerboat.”

Sales of jetboats rose 15.7 percent to 3.545 and ski-boat sales climbed 14.6 percent to 7,066, last year.

Six of the eight categories in the main segments showed sales increases. Sales of 31-40-foot cruisers rose 7.4 percent to 1,430 and sales of 63- to 99-foot custom and semicustom yachts climbed 17.8 percent to 245, but sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts were 4.4 percent lower at 860 and sales of 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive boats fell 9 percent to 13,041.

Sailboat sales fell 3.8 percent for the year to 2,567.

In the fourth quarter, the industry sold 14,642 boats in the main segments, a gain of 10.1 percent, and 20,010 industrywide for a gain of 8.6 percent. Kloppe said the quarter gave the industry a strong finish in months that typically don’t produce large numbers of sales.

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