Boat sales show year-over-year gains in October

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Boat sales had "a pretty good uptick" in October, according to bellwether data collected by Info-Link Technologies, a Miami-based market research and analytics firm.

The year-over-year change in growth is about 11 percent, Info-Link managing director Jack Ellis told Soundings Trade Only.

The growth could be attributed in part to stronger sales in Florida and Texas, two hard-hit housing markets that have begun to strengthen, Ellis said.

“I think everything is in positive territory, which is positive,” Ellis said. “The sportboat fishing market is doing great. A lot of that is driven by Florida. After taking that hit on home values they’re spending money on fishing boats again.”

It also was attributable to increasing consumer confidence and pent-up demand, Ellis speculated.

“We finally chewed through all the distressed inventory in the marketplace, so people no longer have the option of turning to a less expensive pre-owned boat” that’s relatively new, Ellis said.

All categories saw growth, although the increase in sterndrive and jetboats was attributable to jetboats, data showed.

“That segment is just reaching positive territory, which is largely driven by the fact that the jetboat market has been strong,” Ellis told Trade Only.

Info-Link combines the two because both are sportboats despite having different propulsion.

When broken out on their own, sterndrive sales were down 5.7 percent year-over-year in September, Ellis said, although the downhill trajectory of the segment has slowed significantly. Jetboat sales had grown 32.8 percent in the same time frame, Ellis said.

“We’re on the upswing, but we’re on the upswing in the sterndrive segment from what was miserable,” Ellis said.

The sterndrive runabout market has taken a huge hit in the recent downturn, Ellis said.

“We don’t have enough people buying these entry-level boats,” Ellis said. “Generally it seems people are moving into different types of propulsion. I would imagine there’s something about the sterndrive that’s lost its appeal.”

Ellis also cautioned against being overly optimistic.

“Be mindful of the fact that you always want to look at things in a positive light, but we’re comparing this year to last year, which was — we’re still way down, relative to five years ago,” Ellis said. “But we are on the upswing.”

— Reagan Haynes