December dip slows 2010 broker gains

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Larger boats continued to be the strength of the U.S. yacht brokerage market as 2010 ended with mixed results, according to member brokers reporting sales in their proprietary database,

December is normally the lowest-volume month for sales in the United States and this year was no exception. Unit sales of 1,597 boats sold were 18 percent lower than in November and 6 percent lower than in December 2009.

However, unit sales of boats over 55 feet rose 5 percent, compared with the previous December, and total sales valuations were higher than a year earlier in all size ranges of boats over 36 feet. The total valuation of all boats sold in December was $246 million - up 2 percent from December 2009.

Overall, 2010 sales numbers improved from 2009, but fewer sales of smaller and mid-size boats in the second half of the year resulted in only modest gains for the year. Some 29,494 boats changed hands, up 8 percent from 27,195 boats sold in 2009. Total sales valuation for the year increased about $500 million, to $3.2 billion, a gain of 19 percent from 2009.

Powerboat sales dropped 3 percent in December, to 1,233 boats. Sailboat sales were down 17 percent, to 364 boats, which continued a run of months of decreased sales, compared with 2009. At the end of the summer, unit sales for powerboats and sailboats were on par on a percentage basis. Both were about 14 percent above 2009 for the first eight months. After 12 months, however, only 5 percent more sailboats had been sold in 2010 than in 2009, and power had slipped to a 9 percent gain.

A more detailed report summarizing 2010 brokerage sales will appear in the coming issue of Soundings Trade Only.

John Burnham is editorial director of Dominion Marine Media.