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Positive signs for the powerboat industry to start the year

The cruiser and yacht markets saw big gains in January.

The cruiser and yacht markets saw big gains in January.

New powerboat registrations in January were up 2.9 percent in the main segments over January 2017, which had an increase of 9.5 percent over the previous year, according to new data released by Statistical Surveys Inc.

Registrations of outboard-powered fiberglass boats were up 4.5 percent to 1,917 units versus 1,834 last year; that was on top of a 6 percent increase last year, SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe told Trade Only Today.

Though January is one among the three slowest months of the year, the upward momentum is positive, Kloppe said.

“There were a lot of positive remarks and attitudes at the [winter] shows,” Kloppe said. “I think you’re seeing some of the numbers from the shows looking positive, attendance-wise and sales-wise.”

The yacht and cruiser market saw the largest increases last month. The 31- to 40-foot segment rose 28.2 percent, from 39 to 50 units, and the 41- to 65-foot segment grew 64.7 percent, from 34 to 56 units.

Semi-custom and custom yachts over 66 feet grew 50 percent, from six to nine units.

“Those big boats obviously had a great month,” Kloppe said. “We’re only talking 100-plus units … but those boats mean big dollars.”

Even the sterndrive segment, which declined 14.2 percent in the 14- to 30-foot range, saw growth on the larger side, with registration of sterndrives in the 25- to 40-foot range up 5 percent in January versus last year, Kloppe said.

People who traditionally bought sterndrive-powered runabouts less than 25 feet long continued the migration to outboard power — outboard-powered runabouts were up 25 percent, Kloppe said. “That’s where it’s going,” Kloppe said. “If I’m going to buy a 20-foot boat, usually now I’m buying the outboard version.”

Aluminum fishing boat registrations were up 3.6 percent, from 964 to 999 units. Pontoons saw an 8.5-percent decline in registrations, which Kloppe attributed to cold weather in some traditionally warm markets and the fact that boaters in Michigan — the largest pontoon market in the country — are not buying in January.

The industry overall grew 2.6 percent, with an 82.4-percent gain in electric boats, from 17 to 31 units.

Sailboat registrations were up 28.8 percent, from 59 to 76 units, and personal watercraft grew half a point, from 815 to 819 units.

“These are all positive signs,” Kloppe said.

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