Boat sales are on pace to exceed 2012 levels

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New bellwether data from Info-Link suggest that if boat sales continue to be strong in warmer states for the duration of the year, 2013 could close about 6 percent ahead of 2012.

That’s according to Jack Ellis, managing director of the Florida firm, which tracks marine industry sales and trends.

The gain is largely attributable to an increase of about 10 percent in sales of outboard boats 15 feet and larger, Ellis told Trade Only Today.

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Sterndrive sales are continuing to decline and they figure to be about 8 percent lower for the year if current trends continue. “They’re definitely putting a drag on everything else,” Ellis said. “But I think ultimately the story is we’ve had a pretty good year, especially for the bulk of the market.”

November and December account for only about 5 percent of the year’s sales, so barring a large aberration, things are unlikely to shift much, Ellis said. “No matter what happened in November, you’re talking about 3 percent of annual sales. It’s just not going to move the needle much either way,” he said. “It has relatively little bearing on the overall market for the year. The die has been cast.”

“We are now at the point — late October through early January — where our market is in the hands of Florida,” Ellis said, adding that Texas and Louisiana also play a role, and to a lesser extent, Southern California and the Carolinas.

“The good news is those states are doing well,” Ellis said. “They’re firing on all cylinders — in Florida with the housing markets coming back, and likewise with Southern California. Sales in all of these states are chugging along quite nicely, so we are going to close out the year with a strong finish. As I recall, the general consensus late last year was that unit sales would be up about 5 to 10 percent in 2013. I looks like we’re going to be on the right side of this forecast.”

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