NMMA: Boat sales could rise 8 percent this year

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New powerboat sales are approaching pre-recession levels after several years of gains in a number of segments.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is predicting that new powerboat unit sales will be up as much as 8 percent in 2015 and the trade group anticipates that the industry will continue on that trajectory, bringing sales to pre-recession levels as early as next year.

“A steadily improving economy and flurry of product innovation have boosted new powerboat sales, which is encouraging to see as we head into the winter boat show season, one of the busiest selling periods of the year,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “We anticipate 6 to 8 percent growth in 2016, which would take total new powerboat sales back to pre-recession levels of 250,000 units.”

Most powerboat categories experienced year-over-year growth through the second quarter of this year.

Jet boats led the pack, rising 18.1 percent from the second quarter of last year.

Sales of wake sport boats, up 12.1 percent, were next. Deck boat sales were up 11.3 percent. Personal watercraft sales rose 8.2 percent. Pontoon boats continued their rise, with sales up 6.6 percent; bass boat sales were up 5.3 percent.

Sales of larger boats, particularly those equipped for offshore fishing, are on the rise after a sharp decline during the recession. Sales of new powerboats 40 feet and larger were up 9.4 percent through June.

“The saltwater category is hot and has seen double-digit growth for three years, likely given growing popularity of the sport, coupled with the trend to make what used to be exclusively fishing boats into more versatile family day boats that can also be used for hardcore fishing,” Dammrich said. “The innovations we’re seeing in this category are bringing out buyers who want the best of both worlds — an eventful day of fishing and a relaxing day cruising with friends and family.”

Sales of other fiberglass outboard boats (including center console boats, sportfishing boats and flats boats) were up 11.1 percent, and sales of other aluminum outboard boats (including all-purpose fishing boats and jonboats) were up 5.8 percent.

“Sales are up in most segments, and with larger boats on the move, it’s helping to lift the industry and support thousands of marine industry jobs nationwide — numerous people are employed when just one large boat or yacht is built, given how precise and vast these craft are, so when multiple boats are sold you can imagine the jobs this sustains,” Dammrich added.

“Smaller, entry-level boats were the first to return post-recession, so it’s encouraging to see sales up across nearly all boat categories as we look to the winter boat show selling season and year ahead.”

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