Recreational boating industry saw seventh straight year of growth in 2018

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With boat show season kicking off, the marine industry is on a positive trajectory. Photo courtesy of Business Wire.

With boat show season kicking off, the marine industry is on a positive trajectory. Photo courtesy of Business Wire.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association reported yesterday that the recreational boating industry experienced a 4 percent increase in sales over the previous year in 2018. The total of approximately 280,000 units sold was the highest since 2007 and the outlook for 2019 is an additional 3 to 4 percent boost in new powerboat retail sales.

The NMMA estimates that the recreational boating industry contributes an estimated $170.3 billion in economic activity to the U.S. economy, which is reportedly an increase of approximately $49 billion since the last time the last time the association reported economic impact in 2012.

“The recreational boating industry has been on a seven-year climb that’s expected to continue into 2019, bringing even more people to the water,” Thom Dammrich, NMMA president, said in a statement. “Driving these sales is a combination of the economic growth we’ve seen over the past decade, particularly with consumer confidence hovering near all-time highs and consumers seeking out boating as a way to spend quality time with family and friends outdoors. At the same time, over the past five years, marine manufacturers have put a concerted effort on offering new products that attract consumers with different interests and budgets, bringing out new buyers — especially across the watersports, fishing and pontoon categories — three categories seeing unprecedented sales growth.”

Following are some category highlights:

  • Sales of freshwater fishing boats are estimated to be up 2 to 4 percent to 75,000 units in 2018.
  • New personal watercraft sales were up 6 to 8 percent with 68,000 units sold.
  • Pontoon sales were estimated to have increased by 4 to 6 percent to 58,000 units in 2018.
  • Wakesports boats had the highest percentage increase 9 to 11 with 10,000 sold last year.
  • New cruisers that measure between 22 and 32 feet were estimated at being up 2 to 4 percent with 9,000 units sold in 2018.

The Top 10 states for recreational boating economic activity are listed below.

  1. Florida, $23.3 billion
  2. California, $13 billion
  3. New York, $8.4 billion
  4. Texas, $7.7 billion
  5. Michigan, $7.4 billion
  6. Washington, $6.9 billion
  7. New Jersey, $6.6 billion
  8. Tennessee, $6 billion
  9. North Carolina $5.5 billion
  10. Missouri, $4.5 billion


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