New powerboat sales reached 280,000 units last year

Wake-sport boat and personal watercraft sales were up 6 percent last year.

Wake-sport boat and personal watercraft sales were up 6 percent last year.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association estimates that 280,000 new powerboats were sold last year, the second highest total since 2007. With the winter boat show season kicking off this week, the organization expects new powerboat sales to increase by 2 percent in 2020.

“Sales in 2019 were nearly on par with the 11-year high we saw in 2018, even with some softening, particularly in the freshwater fishing category, which we attribute to unseasonably cold and rainy weather in spring and early summer,” NMMA president Frank Hugelmeyer said in a statement. “Looking at 2020, with the economy on solid footing and key economic indicators like consumer spending remaining strong, we expect another healthy hear for new-boat sales, which could be up as much as 2 percent.

“With approximately $42 billion per year in retail expenditures, boating is not only an economic driver but a unique vehicle for the kind of meaningful experiences consumers are seeking more and more — ones that take you outdoors, bring together family and friends, and create lasting members,” he added.

In 2019, new personal watercraft sales were up 6 percent to 73,000 units. Wake-sport boats were also up 6 percent, with 11,000 units sold. Sales of new cruisers between 22 and 32 feet were up by 3 percent to 9,000 units. Freshwater fishing boats were down about 7 percent to 69,000 units.

The NMMA estimates that the winter shows can generate 50 percent of annual sales for exhibiting manufacturers and dealers.

Sales of boats, products and services are expected to total $42 billion in 2019, a slight increase over the previous year. Retail unit sales of new boats reached approximately 280,000 units in 2019.

Boaters and anglers purchased about 975,000 preowned boats in 2019, down slightly from 2018, and it’s estimated that 11.9 million boats were registered and documented in the United States last year.

According to the NMMA, outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2 percent of the 2018 U.S. gross domestic product of 20.5 trillion, generating $451 billion in gross economic output, which is on par with the telecommunications industry. Recreational boating and fishing is the largest outdoor recreation segment, contributing nearly $40 billion in gross output.


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