Marine industry finishes 2017 on a high note

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The boat industry saw its highest unit sales count in 2017 since the recession

The boat industry saw its highest unit sales count in 2017 since the recession

Sales of powerboats in the main segments grew 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 in all 50 states, and 5.2 percent in 2017, according to new data released by Statistical Surveys Inc. today.

There were 273,251 total units sold on a 12-month rolling basis in 2017, with 179,859 in the main powerboat segments including pontoon, aluminum fish, outboard-powered fiberglass boats, sterndrive and inboard fiberglass boats, yachts, cruisers and tow boats.

“This is our strongest year since 2008 with unit counts,” when 279,692 vessels were sold, SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe told Trade Only Today. “The industry touted early last year it thought it would grow 4 to 6 percent, and we’re right in that alleyway. It’s a good strong closing quarter.”

The pontoon segment continued its upward sales trajectory with year-over-year growth of 14.3 percent in the fourth quarter and 7.8 percent growth for the year in 2017.

The ski and wake segment saw 15.9 percent growth in the quarter and a 7.1 increase for the year on a year-over-year basis, the data showed.

Outboard-powered fiberglass boats had 5.8 percent growth in the fourth quarter and a 6 percent increase for the year.

Though traditionally one of the industry’s weakest quarters, the numbers are a good indicator of positive momentum, Kloppe said.

Personal watercraft, which are not counted in the main powerboat segments, saw 5.1 percent growth for the year with 63,314 units sold.

Following that segment was outboard-powered fiberglass boats, which edged past pontoon unit sales for 2017 with 53,992 sold; there were 53,273 pontoons sold or the year and 49,434 aluminum fishing boats.

Thirteen of the top 15 states had growth in overall sales, Kloppe said.

Florida held its spot as the state with the most boat sales, followed by Texas, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin; Texas helped drive growth in the ski and wake segments and Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin all contributed to growth in aluminum fish and pontoon segments, Kloppe said.

“Michigan, we’re the No. 1 pontoon state in the country,” Kloppe said, adding that the region has seen a milder-than-usual winter.

California also saw another strong year as the No. 7 ranked state in sales for 2017, Kloppe said.

“California did great, they’ve been on a path upwards for the past few years,” Kloppe said. “They grew 14.5 percent.”

Driving that growth was PWCs, then aluminum and fiberglass runabouts, Kloppe said. That was followed by pontoon sales, which saw strong growth with 1,158 units sold — that’s compared to 680 pontoons sold in 2015.

The 31- to 40-foot cruiser segment dipped 15.8 percent in the fourth quarter and 8.6 percent for the year, but the 66-foot and above yacht segment was up 10.3 percent to 160 units for the year.

The sailboat segment was off most significantly in 2017, with sales dropping 26.7 percent from 2,406 units to 1,764.

Boats with electric propulsion saw strong gains, with 25.7 percent growth for the year from 226 units to 284.


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