Boat registrations grew 4.7 percent in the main categories and 4.4 percent overall, putting industry growth at the higher end of expectations for the year.
Data from all 50 states shows that ski and wake boats led growth in the main powerboat category, with 10.5 percent growth for the year and 10,612 units registered, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan firm that tracks boat registrations.
PWC, listed in overall registrations, also had a standout year with 9.2 percent growth, and nearly 70,000 units registered in 2018.
“The industry had good growth, and it’s just the same segments over and over again — pontoons, aluminum fish, ski and wake, and PWC,” SSI sales director Ryan Kloppe told Trade Only Today.
Pontoons saw 6 percent growth for the year, with nearly 60,000 units registered in 2018; aluminum fish saw a 5.6 percent increase with 52,537 registrations.
Sterndrive and inboard registrations continued to decline — the segments were down 4 percent in the 14- to 30-foot range with 10,743 registered — only a handful more than the ski and wake category for the year, noted Kloppe.
“Sterndrive and inboards are going to flip-flop with ski and wake next year,” predicted Kloppe.
Sterndrives alone in the 16- to 40-foot category declined 5 percent for the year. However, registrations of sterndrives 23 feet and above were up 4 percent; 23-foot and 24-foot runabouts in that category were up 8 percent and 16 percent, respectively, showing that some builders experienced robust growth, said Kloppe.
The larger-than-expected overall increase for the year could be attributed in part to the fact that several early-reporting states updated their registration and reporting technology, which created lags in data submission, said Kloppe.
“Any time you’re updating technology, you’re going to have hiccups sometimes,” said Kloppe.
Florida was one state that had some delays, and as the largest boating state, that could’ve moved the needle slightly, said Kloppe.
When all boats were accounted for, Florida was the top boating state with almost 5 percent growth and more than 36,600 units registered. Second was Texas, with more than 24,000 units registered and over 6 percent growth. Michigan was the third largest boating state with 17,240 units registered, and nearly 8 percent growth.
Read more about the 2018 numbers in the May issue of Soundings Trade Only.