Sales of aluminum fishing and pontoon boats again buoyed the industry in September as the fiberglass market continued to struggle.
Sales of pontoon boats rose 12.8 percent for the month, to 787 boats, compared with September of last year, and sales of fishing boats climbed 7.6 percent, to 1,324 boats, according to figures compiled by Aarn Rosen, national marine sales manager at Statistical Surveys Inc.
Together, the categories, comprising aluminum boats 16 feet or larger, produced 2,111 sales, 8.7 percent more than in the same month a year earlier, in early reporting states. The sales information is based on registration data from 26 states, or 62 percent of the U.S. boat market.
Total industry sales fell 4.4 percent for the month, to 7,277 boats, but the main powerboat segments, comprising aluminum pontoon and fishing boats, and fiberglass boats from 11 to 99 feet, produced 4,772 sales, 2.1 percent more than in September 2010.
Sales of aluminum boats smaller than 16 feet fell 18.1 percent for the month, to 677 boats, limiting the gain in the overall market. Sales of all aluminum boats rose 1.2 percent for the month, to 2,788 boats.
By contrast, sales of all fiberglass boats, including personal watercraft, slipped 7.5 percent for the month, to 4,489 boats, and sales in the core 14- to 30-foot segment fell 15.9 percent, to 856 boats. Sales of personal watercraft fell 16 percent to 1,205 boats.
Fiberglass categories that showed growth included outboard-powered boats from 11 to 40 feet, where sales rose 5.2 percent, to 1,661 boats. Sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts rose by 10, or 20.4 percent, to 59 yachts.
Rosen, asked how he expects the industry to finish 2011, predicted that “the aluminum and fiberglass outboard segments’ ongoing strength and total volume will maintain the main powerboat segments’ positive trend through the end of the year. I expect the total industry trend to be even or slightly negative, depending upon PWC volume, moving through the fourth quarter."
Sales of jet boats fell 10.7 percent, to 125 boats, in September, and sales of ski boats fell 8.2 percent, to 212 boats.
Sales of sailboats fell 15.4 percent to 104 boats.
— Jack Atzinger