New powerboat registrations declined nearly 18 percent overall in March, as businesses reacted to the coronavirus crisis.
New registrations were down 16 percent in the main categories, with the yacht and cruiser segment taking the largest hit, according to preliminary data from Statistical Surveys, a Michigan firm that tracks new-boat registrations. The data come from 22 states, including Florida,representing about 42 percent of the overall market.
“We were off to a fabulous start, and then the coronavirus happened,” Ryan Kloppe, Statistical Surveys sales director, told Trade Only Today. “This is what we’re going to be seeing for the next couple of months. This is going to be the new normal for registration data.”
Still, the first half of March was strong for many dealers, so numbers could drop further in subsequent months.
Pontoons fared best in the main powerboat categories, dropping nearly 10 percent but still up 0.3 percent year-to-date. Aluminum fishing boats declined 12.7 percent compared with March 2019but were also up year-to-date at 3.7 percent.
Fiberglass outboard boats dropped nearly 20 percent year-over-year and were off 2.3 percent year-to-date. The 31- to 40-foot cruiser segment declined from 48 units to 26, but was still up 5 percent for the year. Yachts between 41 and 65 feet declined more than 67 percent, from 67 unitsto 22.
The numbers are disappointing, but Kloppe is hopeful that the pandemic will ultimately boost the industry. “We’ve al been cooped up,” he said. “When you take the reins off, people are going to be ready to go.”