Sterndrives continue to be a drag on boat sales

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Sales of sterndrive boats continued to decline through October, sliding about 7.5 percent from last year on a rolling 12-month basis, according to bellwether state data collected by Info-Link.

“This is not new,” Info-Link’s Jack Ellis told Trade Only Today. “The segment has been in decline for years.”

For the twelve-month period that ended in October, sales of powerboats 15 feet and larger are up 7 percent, compared with the same period last year. Outboard boat sales jumped 10 percent, driven largely by pontoons and fishing boats, Ellis said. Inboard boats, driven primarily by ski boats, also rose 10 percent.

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“Runabouts continue to be a drag on the overall market,” Ellis said. “This includes jetboats, but we believe this is a temporary anomaly due to BRP’s exit from the segment.”

“If you took sterndrive runabouts out of the picture, things would look a lot more rosy,” Ellis said. “There just hasn’t been much demand for those boats. We saw a pretty good increase in sales of jetboats last year, but that’s fallen off significantly this year. I question whether that is as much a supply issue as a demand issue.”

Jetboat sales are down about 30 percent, but they increased by the same amount last year, leaving the results over the past two years flat, Ellis said.

— Reagan Haynes