Sales of aluminum fishing and pontoon boats helped boost new-boat sales last year to their first gain since 2006.
That’s according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s annual Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, issued today, which shows the U.S. recreational boating industry improving overall.
The NMMA report also shows that boating participation was at its highest level in nearly 15 years, increasing 10 percent last year.
In 2011, retail sales of boats, accessories and marine services increased 6 percent, to $32.3 billion, the report showed. New powerboat and sailboat sales increased 0.8 percent, to 214,405, the first increase in five years.
Leading a recovery were sales of aluminum powerboats — primarily fishing and pontoon boats — which were up 4 percent in 2011.
Smaller boats continued to dominate sales; 95 percent of the 12.4 million registered boats in the United States in 2011 were less than 26 feet, and 84 percent were registered to households with an income of less than $100,000.
“Americans’ passion for enjoying the boating lifestyle is taking precedent as they put aside concerns about the economy in favor of creating lifelong memories with loved ones,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement.
A survey, in conjunction with Foresight Research, of 3,100 boaters and non-boaters from December 2011 shows that an estimated 15.2 percent of the 237.7 million Americans were actively engaged in shopping for or planning to purchase a boat in 2012. This is an increase from 10 percent in 2010.