Boat sales see boost in second quarter

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Recreational boat sales were uneven this year as a hard winter slowly transitioned to spring, but second-quarter figures show that, by the end of June, the industry was on pace to exceed 2013 sales by more than 10,000 boats.

Nationwide sales for the quarter in the main powerboat segments rose 5.3 percent to 62,541 boats from 59,366 in the same period a year earlier, led by gains among aluminum fishing boats and pontoons and small to mid-size fiberglass outboard boats, Statistical Surveys reported today.

Industrywide sales rose 11 percent to 102,282 boats from 92,158 in the quarter last year as personal watercraft, jetboats and ski boats enjoyed double-digit percentage gains.

The mid-year results paint a brighter picture than industry observers might have expected. Sales in early-reporting states rose in tandem among the main segments and across the industry during only three of the first six months of the year and the gains were sometimes slim.

The second-quarter data are for 48 states — nearly all of the national market. The only states not included were Hawaii and Maine, where figures are only available annually.

Statistical Surveys national marine sales manager Ryan Kloppe said the report included numbers from more Northeast and Midwest states where aluminum boats sell well, boosting the results in those categories.

He said the results exceeded the expectations of analysts who had thought a sales gain of 8 percent might be the best the industry could do.

“I would characterize it as a good first half, considering all [the weather problems] we had to deal with,” he said. “There were some segments that performed very well,” he added, naming the PWC and ski boat categories.

Among the main segments, pontoons were the top sellers, finishing the quarter at 21,518 boats, a gain of 5 percent from a year earlier. Sales of aluminum fishing boats rose 6.1 percent to 17,802 and sales of 11- to 40-foot outboard fiberglass boats climbed 9.7 percent to 16,050.

The beleaguered 14- to 30-foot sterndrive segment continued to decline, with sales falling by 5.9 percent to 6,224 boats, but among the bigger-boat categories, sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers were up 20.8 percent, or 97 boats, at 563.

The most impressive gains came among such affordable vessels as PWC, a category where sales surged 34 percent to 23,640 units. Ski-boat sales climbed 16.4 percent to 3,314 and sales of jetboats climbed 15.3 percent to 1,583.

Sailboat sales continued to lag and were down 7.2 percent for the quarter to 1,012.

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