Boat sales make solid 2Q gains

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Soundings Q2 Sales chart

Led by aluminum pontoon boats, outboard fiberglass boats and personal watercraft, new-boat sales showed healthy second-quarter growth.

Sales rose 5.7 percent in the main powerboat segments, to 76,829, and 5.3 percent industrywide, to 119,066, in 48 states that represent about 95 percent of the U.S. market, Statistical Surveys reported today.

“That’s where we thought the numbers were going to be when the year started,” Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said.

The results for the quarter were in the upper range of the industry forecast for growth of 4 to 6 percent. The only states not included in the report were Maine and Illinois.

The results followed a lackluster first quarter, when sales rose just 2.4 percent in the main segments and industrywide. Second-quarter sales last year rose 3.6 percent in both groups.

The industry began the third quarter with July sales that rose just 2.4 percent in the main segments and were nearly flat industrywide — down 0.5 percent.

Pontoon boat sales totaled 27,164 boats in the second quarter, up 9.5 percent, and 20,214 outboard fiberglass boats from 11 to 50 feet were sold, a gain of 6.5 percent.

Other categories in the main segments that contributed to the overall increase included aluminum fishing boats and ski and wake boats. Fishing-boat sales rose 3.2 percent, to 19,239, and ski and wake boat sales rose 8.3 percent, to 4,326.

Sales of 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive boats fell 4.4 percent for the quarter, to 5,068, but Kloppe said sales of 25-foot and larger boats in that category are up through the second quarter.

“The people who are looking at a 25-foot-plus boat are buying them,” he said.

Beyond the main segments, PWC sales rose 7.9 percent, to 30,072, and sales of jetboats, a lower-volume category, rose 10.4 percent, to 2,291. PWC led the industry in sales for the quarter.

“They’ve had positive numbers for years now,” Kloppe said.

“It’s a good category,” he added. “It’s getting people on the water” and their owners could eventually purchase full-size boats.

Sales were lower in two of the three bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by 82, to 497, and sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts by 54, to 277, but sales of 66-foot and larger custom and semicustom yachts rose by six, to 44.

Sailboat sales fell by 349, or 36.7 percent, to 601.