The U.S. recreational boating industry is estimating that it achieved growth of 7 to 8 percent in sales of new powerboats in 2014 and will see additional growth of 5 percent in 2015, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
This is the industry’s third consecutive year of steady growth coming out of the Great Recession.
Total 2014 retail expenditures are expected to increase by as much as 5 percent, “which would eclipse 2007,” one of the healthiest pre-recession years for the industry, according to NMMA data. Total expenditures include retail spending on boats, engines, marine accessories and services.
In 2014 the strongest sales came from new ski and wakeboard boats, pontoon boats, aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass runabouts and personal watercraft.
Sales of larger cruising boats also started to see an uptick.
“An improved economy with GDP projected to grow 3 percent, an improving housing market, a stronger job market, increasing consumer confidence and a multiyear low on fuel prices have bolstered people’s financial outlook, which bodes well for new-boat sales,” NMMA president Thom Dammrich said in a statement. “Should these economic indicators remain positive, we anticipate sales growth of new boats to continue over the next three years.”
A record number of Americans — 89 million — got onto the water in 2013, the most recent figures available.
“We’re seeing boat dealers and manufacturers increase their space at boat shows around the U.S., signaling their anticipation of a strong boat-show buying season,” Dammrich said. “We expect all boat segments to see growth at boat shows — from personal watercraft to small family runabouts to fishing boats and large cruising boats — especially with the variety of exciting new boats being offered and as more people turn to boating in an improving economy.”
U.S. recreational boating facts and figures:
▪ Recreational boating retail expenditures (new and used boats and engines, trailers, accessories and services, including fuel, repair, storage, insurance and taxes) increased 3.5 percent in 2013, to $36.8 billion.
▪ Sales of powerboats (outboard, sterndrive, inboard and jet boats) were up 2.4 percent in 2013, reaching a total of 161,130 units. Unit sales are expected to have increased 5 to 7 percent in 2014.
▪ It’s not just new boats Americans are buying; an estimated 955,300 used boats (power, personal watercraft, and sail) also were sold in 2013.
▪ Made in America: Ninety-five percent of powerboats sold in the United States are made in this country. Recreational boating in the United States creates more than 338,500 marine industry jobs, supporting more than 34,800 businesses.
▪ Americans are taking to the water in record numbers: Of the 242 million adults in the United States in 2013, 89 million participated in recreational boating at least once, up 1 percent from 2012.
▪ There were an estimated 12 million registered boats (power, sail, and some canoes/kayaks and other non-powered boats) in the United States in 2013 (the most recent data available).
▪ Ninety-five percent of the boats on the water in this country are 26 feet or smaller.
▪ Seventy-two percent of American boat owners have a household income of less than $100,000.