Boat sales sluggish in fourth quarter

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Fourth-quarter U.S. boat sales were disappointing, although the rate of decline in fiberglass sales was slower than for the same period in 2009 and sales of aluminum and pontoon boats rose modestly.

Fiberglass sales in the popular 14- to 30-foot segment fell 19.1 percent year-over-year during the October-to-December quarter on sales of 5,906 units across all 50 states. Sales of boats 30 feet and larger fell 26.9 percent on sales of 727 units.

The total fiberglass market was down 18.2 percent for the quarter on sales of 8,270 units, compared with a decline of 21.9 percent on 9,718 units in 49 states in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Sales of aluminum boats rose 2.4 percent for the quarter on 6,606 units and sales of pontoon boats rose 0.3 percent on 1,279 units.

In other categories in order of unit sales, the personal watercraft market saw a decline of 18.4 percent for the quarter on 1,610 units; ski/wake boat sales dipped 22.2 percent on sales of 381 units; deckboat sales were 19.6 percent lower on 316 units; and jet boat sales dropped 20.4 percent on 156 units.

Preliminary January sales numbers point toward a gradual recovery for the boat market this year.

— Aarn D. Rosen

National Marine Sales Manager

Statistical Surveys Inc.