Boat sales show moderate gains in August

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Led by aluminum pontoon and outboard fiberglass boats, ski and wake boats and jetboats, sales of new recreational boats had their best percentage gains in three months in August.

Sales in the main powerboat segments rose 3.5 percent, to 10,239, and industrywide sales climbed 2.5 percent, to 17,454, in 28 states that represent about 58 percent of the U.S. market, Statistical Surveys said today.

Pontoon sales rose the most — 8.9 percent, or 228, to 2,789 — and sales of 11- to 50-foot outboard fiberglass boats increased by 2.9 percent, or 101, to 3,640. Aluminum fishing boat sales also increased, but by only 0.9 percent, or 19 boats, to 2,225.

“What you see is moderate growth year over year,” Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said. “Some of these segments are really excelling, really just thriving.”

Kloppe said the pontoon segment, in particular, “is really driving the industry.”

Sales of ski and wake boats climbed by 10.1 percent, or 67, to 728.

Sales of 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive boats were lower again this month, falling by 7 percent, or 52, to 694. Sales in the category are lower for the year through August by 6.1 percent, at 8,681, in the early-reporting states.

Outside the main segments, sales of personal watercraft rose 2.5 percent, or 134 units, to 5,460, and jetboat sales climbed by 53, or 14.2 percent, to 426.

Sales of aluminum pontoons and outboard fiberglass boats top 40,000 through August and PWC sales are above 52,000 in the early-reporting states.

For the year through August, sales are up 4.9 percent in the main segments, at 136,521, and 4.3 percent industrywide, at 211,597. The results are now in line with industry forecasts for an increase of 4 to 6 percent for the year.

“We’re on target for that 4 to 6 percent range,” Kloppe said, adding that as the industry moves into months of slower sales at the end of the year, once a trend gets established “it’s not going to waver too much.”

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing complete figures in the bigger-boat categories.

Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by 16, to 92. Sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts declined by five, to 57, and sales of 66-foot and larger custom and semicustom yachts were flat, at 14.

Seven of the top 10 early-reporting states reported better sales than in August last year.

Florida led with 2,946, although that was down from 3,161 last year. Texas was second with 2,310, down from 2,436; California was third with 2,022, up from 1,584; Michigan was fourth, with 1,497, up from 1,400; and North Carolina was fifth, with 1,008, up from 981.

Rounding out the top 10 were New York, with 738 (down from 865); Washington, with 730 (up from 607); Ohio, with 659 (up from 563); Alabama, with 651 (up from 564); and Georgia, with 622 (up from 614).

Sailboat sales fell by 11, to 146, and they are down by 557, or 31.2 percent, for the year in the early-reporting states, to 1,226.

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