Boat sales show double-digit gains in 1Q

The recreational boating industry posted double-digit first-quarter sales gains, including two segments that sold nearly 10,000 boats.
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Boosted by the strongest March results since 2008, the recreational boating industry posted double-digit first-quarter sales gains, including two segments that sold nearly 10,000 boats.

Sales in the main powerboat segments rose 10.7 percent to 29,362 and they climbed 10.4 percent to 40,783 industrywide from the same quarter last year in 48 states that represent 95 percent of the U.S. boating market, Statistical Surveys said today.

The report excludes only Maine and Wisconsin. Maine reports sales annually at the end of the year and Wisconsin was not included because of data entry delays.

The quarter ended with March results that were surprisingly strong. Sales soared 21.3 percent in the main segments and 19.9 percent industrywide. Every category in the main segments showed a double-digit gain.

“I think what you’re seeing is a good early start to the spring selling season,” Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said. “There are a lot of positive numbers in [the first-quarter report] and only a few negative numbers.”

Outboard fiberglass boats from 11 to 50 feet were the top-selling category in the industry for the quarter. Sales of 9,933 boats were up 9.2 percent from a year earlier.

Aluminum pontoon boats had the highest percentage gain among the main segments’ high-volume categories — 17.4 percent to 6,049 boats. Aluminum fishing boat sales finished right behind fiberglass outboards in volume at 9,847. Sales in the category were up 8.5 percent from the same quarter last year, and Kloppe said they will be even higher when results from Wisconsin, where fishing is popular, are included.

The 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive category, which has struggled in recent years, had a moderate gain of 3.9 percent to 1,760 boats.

In the lower-volume, bigger-boat categories, sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts rose by 46 to 228, but sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by eight to 269 and sales of custom and semicustom yachts 66 feet and larger dropped by four to 35.

Sales of personal watercraft rose 12.7 percent to 5,517 units. The category ranked fourth in sales behind outboard fiberglass and aluminum pontoon and fishing boats.

Sales of ski and wake boats climbed by 216, or 21.1 percent, to 1,241 and jetboat sales rose by 68, or 10.5 percent, to 718.

Sailboat sales were up by 21, or 4.7 percent, to 471.

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