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Powerboat sales reach a 10-year high

Sales of outboard boats accounted for 85 percent of the market in 2017.

Sales of outboard boats accounted for 85 percent of the market in 2017.

New powerboat sales increased 5 percent in 2017, to 262,000 units, the highest level the boating industry has seen in 10 years.

Total marine expenditures on new boats, engines, trailers, accessories and services were at an all-time high last year, at $39 billion, up 7 percent over 2016, according to new data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s 2017 Statistical Abstract.

Boatbuilders are expanding capacity to meet demand, with new plants and increased production.

That supports recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis that U.S. manufacturing’s gross output increased to $6.228 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

“As the strong economy continues to bolster new-boat sales and boating expenditures, capital spending and manufacturer optimism are at record highs, creating one of the strongest periods on record for the U.S. boating industry and a buyers’ paradise, with more boats and more options on the market,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich in a statement.

“Economic factors such as an increase in GDP, improving housing market, strong consumer confidence and growing disposable income are spurring demand for new boats,” Dammrich said. “The growth trajectory recreational boating is continuing to see is healthy and steady as the industry works to bring new buyers to the market across all segments, from small aluminum fishing boats to large cruising yachts.”

Sterndrive cruisers between 22 and 32 feet rebounded to a three-year high, up 5 percent from 2016, accounting for 52 percent of all sterndrive-boat sales.

Outboard-boat sales — representing 85 percent of new traditional powerboats sold, including pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, and small fiberglass cruising boats — were up 5 percent in 2017.

Sales of new ski and wakeboard boats were up 8 percent in 2017; new personal watercraft sales, considered a gateway to boat ownership, rose 5 percent; and jetboats saw a sales increase of 8 percent.

The 10 states that led the country in sales of new powerboat, engines, trailers and accessories in 2017:

  • Florida: $2.9 billion, up 10 percent
  • Texas: $1.7 billion, up 12 percent
  • Michigan: $982 million, up 12 percent
  • North Carolina: $838 million, up 16 percent
  • Minnesota: $807 million, up 12 percent
  • New York: $735 million, up 4 percent
  • California: $718 million, up 14 percent
  • Wisconsin: $713 million, up 12 percent
  • South Carolina: $637 million, up 12 percent
  • Georgia: $632 million, up 11 percent

There were an estimated 988,200 preowned boats sold in 2017, the highest since 2006, totaling $9.3 billion, an increase of 2 percent over 2016.



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1. 2023 new boat retail outlook

Too Many High-Priced Boats

To wrap up 2022, marine retailers reported lower demand, expressed more negative sentiment and voiced concerns about rising inventory. Boat prices and the economy remained top of mind for dealers in December.

Soundings Nov 2022

New-Boat Registrations Continue to Slide

As the gaudy sales figures from the pandemic continue to return to more realistic numbers, the main segments of the recreational boating industry saw new-model registrations of 4,421 in November, a 30.3% drop from 6,340 during the same time in 2021. .