New-boat sales rose 3.1 percent overall in September and 3.5 percent in the main powerboat categories, according to Statistical Surveys, the Michigan firm that tracks boat registrations.
With the majority of sales recorded for the year, the industry is poised to be up around 3.5 percent for 2018, said SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe.
“We’re right on that target that analysts predicted, between 3 to 6 percent growth,” Kloppe told Trade Only Today.
The September numbers are from 24 early-reporting states, accounting for slightly more than half of the U.S. boat market. California, typically an early-reporting state and often ranked among the top five for sales, was behind in its data collection and is not included in the data, Kloppe said.
“That means we’re probably missing about 1,500 boats across all the categories,” he said.
Pontoon sales were “still chugging along,” with more than 50,000 units sold. The segment saw a 9.7 percent increase in September, versus the same month last year, and 4.5 percent year-over-year growth.
Aluminum fishing boat sales dipped 7.3 percent from last year, but the segment’s year-to-date growth is among the strongest at 5.5 percent.
Sales of ski and wake boats have seen the strongest year-to-date growth at 8.8 percent, even though the segment dipped nearly a percentage point in September.
PWC sales for the month rose more than 30 percent, with 1,947 units sold versus 1,490 last year. The category has grown 7.1 percent year-to-date.
“PWC had a huge month, and it’s well over 60,000 units for the year at this point,” Kloppe said.
Although sterndrive sales continued to decline, sterndrive-powered boats 23 feet and above were up 5.5 percent year-to-date, Kloppe said.
“That’s nice for the industry to see and hear, that there is positive momentum inside that category,” he said.
After a few months of declines, the outboard fiberglass segment picked up slightly, growing 0.3 percent, up 2 percent year-to-date.
Sailboats also had a positive month, growing 10.3 percent in September, though the segment posted a 7.9 percent year-to-date decline.