Boat sales show improvement in November

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Sales of aluminum fishing boats began to climb again in November and the largest category of fiberglass boats also saw a gain as the industry’s main powerboat segments showed 1.5 percent growth for the month.

Sales of fishing boats rose 5.6 percent in November, to 787 boats, compared with the same month a year earlier, and sales in the high-volume 11- to 40-foot outboard fiberglass segment were up 3.5 percent, to 1,047 boats, according to figures compiled by Aarn Rosen, national marine sales manager at Statistical Surveys Inc.

Together the two categories helped to lift total sales in the main powerboat segments to 2,458 boats during what is traditionally the second-lowest month for volume in the industry. November sales typically represent 2 to 2.7 percent of the year’s total retail activity; December is typically the slowest month of the year.

Rosen said the most significant news in the November report was that the main powerboat segments, which consist of two aluminum categories, plus fiberglass boats in five segments that range from 11 to 99 feet, firmed up. Even though the development occurred at a slow time of the year, he said, “It’s still a good sign that the market is really beginning to settle.”

Sales of jet boats rose in November, climbing 10.7 percent, to 31, and sales of ski boats were flat at 79 boats, “which should give them better confidence in their market going forward,” Rosen said.

Aluminum pontoon boat sales, which have helped to buoy the industry amid a lengthy slump in fiberglass sales, were 2.4 percent lower in November, at 247 boats.

Total industry sales fell 1.9 percent for the month, to 3,394 boats.

The sales information is based on registration data from 26 early-reporting states, or about 62 percent of the nation’s boat market. Reports of sales of documented vessels were incomplete because of data entry delays at the Coast Guard.

Sales of all fiberglass boats, including personal watercraft, fell 2.6 percent for the month, from 1,999 units to 1,948, and sales in the core 14- to 30-foot fiberglass segment fell 2.9 percent, to 301 boats. Sales of personal watercraft fell 4.3 percent, to 309 units.

Sailboat sales fell 41 percent, to 46 boats.

Click here for November sales figures.

— Jack Atzinger

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