Overall boat sales in March were slightly lower compared to last year and year-over-year growth was down by just over 1 percent, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., data that was gathered for 30 states.
In year-to-date comparisons, four of the top 10 states in terms of new boat registrations were up. North Carolina (4) had a 4 percent increase (1,171 in 2018 vs. 1,127 in 2017), while South Carolina was up by 34 (970 compared to 725). Ranked ninth, New York was up by 8 percent (597 versus 554). Number 10 California had a strong 13-percent boost (547 compared to 486.
“California the last two years has been on the rise,” said Ryan Kloppe sales director at Statistical Surveys.
Regarding the overall slow pace, Kloppe said, “You can attribute some of that to the weather. If you remember back in March, Florida had a cold snap, too.”
Because of the lingering colder temperatures throughout the country some boats purchased at shows are likely still sitting in storage or under shrinkwrap. “There may have been boats sold, too, that haven’t been registered yet,” said Kloppe.
In year-to-date sales, pontoons (1.3 percent), fiberglass outboard-powered boats (1.4 percent) and ski/wake sports boats (6.2 percent) remain the segments that have had the most consistent growth. For March, yachts ranging from 41 to 65 feet had the biggest single-month increase, 13.4 percent, 76 units compared to 67. Aluminum fish boats were up by .2 percent in March, but are down by the same percentage in year over year numbers.
Personal watercraft had a slight increase of 1.4 percent. In year over year numbers, electrically powered vessels were up 11.4 percent. For the first time in recent memory, sailboats were up by 2.2 percent.
In terms of new registrations, Florida remained the top state in terms of numbers at 3,480 new registrations so far in 2018, but that was lower than the 3,516 in 2017. Texas was Number Two at 2,136 new boats, which was also down compared to 2,316 last year. Michigan (1,270) ranked third with 1,270 boats in 2018 compared to 1,305 in 2017.