The National Marine Manufacturers Association is reporting healthy growth for the $35.4 billion U.S. recreational boating industry, with an estimated 171,500 new powerboats sold in 2014 — an increase of 6.4 percent from 2013.
Florida, the nation’s top state for boat sales, sold $2.3 billion worth of new powerboats, motors, trailers and accessories, up 22.5 percent from 2013.
Categories seeing growth within the powerboat segment include jet-drive boats, up 16.7 percent, to 3,500 units; ski/wakeboard boats, up 16.4 percent, to 7,100 units; and outboard boats, up 7.4 percent, to 144,800 units.
The NMMA anticipates that sales of new powerboats will continue to grow through 2015, with an increase in unit sales of as much as 5 to 7 percent.
“We’re seeing sales increases across a number of boat categories, with the largest increase from smaller fiberglass and aluminum outboard powerboats — a segment that remains the market share leader, given their continued versatility and variety of price points and sizes,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.
“Marine manufacturers have been introducing smaller, more versatile boats at lower price points that can be used for activities from fishing to cruising with family and friends, making boating even more accessible for newcomers,” Dammrich said.
The popular outboard boat segment, which includes pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, and small fiberglass cruising boats, comprised about 84.4 percent of the overall powerboat market. Outboard boats were the most popular type of new powerboat sold in 2014.
In addition to new powerboats, new sailboats sold at retail increased 33.9 percent to 7,500 units, and new personal watercraft sales increased 21.6 percent, to 47,900 units.
“Spring and summer are key selling periods for new boats, and we are off to a good start with warmer weather and lower gas prices helping to boost boat sales,” Dammrich noted. “After a strong 2014, we expect to see continued growth in 2015 by as much as 5 to 7 percent.”
Boating by the numbers
- U.S. expenditures on boats, engines, accessories and related costs totaled $35.4 billion in 2014.
- The recreational boating industry in the United States has an annual economic impact of more than $121.5 billion (includes direct, indirect and induced spending), supporting 650,015 direct and indirect American jobs and nearly 35,000 businesses.
- Annual retail sales of new boats, engines and marine accessories in the United States totaled $16.4 billion in 2014.
- Americans are taking to the water: 35.7 percent of the U.S. adult population — 87.3 million Americans — participated in recreational boating at least once in 2014.
- Boats are uniquely made in America: 94.9 percent of powerboats sold in the United States are made in this country.
- There were an estimated 12 million registered boats in the United States in 2014.
- 95 percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft and sailboats) in the United States are less than 26 feet — boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.
- It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; an estimated 940,500 used boats (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) were sold in 2014.
- Boating is primarily a middle-class lifestyle, as 71.5 percent of American boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.
- Leading the nation in sales of new powerboats, motors, trailers and accessories, the top 10 boating states in 2014 were:
- Florida: $2.3 billion, up 22.5 percent from 2013
- Texas: $1.3 billion, up 11.9 percent from 2013
- Michigan: $762.4 million, up 13.1 percent from 2013
- Minnesota: $601.5 million, up 3.9 percent from 2013
- New York: $597.8 million, up 7.3 percent from 2013
- North Carolina: $580.2 million, up 16.9 percent from 2013
- Wisconsin: $560.3 million, up 2.9 percent from 2013
- California: $546.8 million, up 20.9 percent from 2013
- Louisiana: $529.9 million, up 11 percent from 2013
- Alabama: $457.7 million, up 19.6 percent from 2013