Boat Sales Ride A Rising Tide Into 2015

U.S. recreational boating industry estimates new powerboat sales up 5-7 percent last year; Sales expected to increase another 5 percent in 2015 as boat shows open nationwide
CHICAGO (January 8, 2015) – With the start of a New Year, the U.S. recreational boating industry is estimating 2014 will see a 5-7 percent increase in sales of new powerboats with continued growth of an additional 5 percent in 2015, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). This is the industry’s third consecutive year of steady growth coming out of the recession.

In addition, total 2014 retail expenditures—which include retail spending on boats, engines, marine accessories and services—are expected to see increases by as much as 5 percent, which would eclipse 2007, one of the healthiest pre-recession years for the industry. In 2014, the strongest sales came from new ski/wakeboard boats, pontoon boats, aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass runabouts and personal watercraft. Sales of larger cruising boats also started to see an uptick.

“An improved economy with GDP projected to grow 3 percent, an improving housing market, a stronger job market, increasing consumer confidence and a multi-year low on fuel prices have bolstered people’s financial outlook, which bodes well for new boat sales,” said Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Should these economic indicators remain positive, we anticipate sales growth of new boats to continue over the next three years.”

Another positive indicator for the industry is the record number of Americans getting on the water (89 million in 2013 – the most recent figure available). What’s more, the industry has placed additional focus on introducing boats for a variety of budgets, offering attractive entry points for the boating lifestyle.

All types of new boats, from small fishing boats to large luxury yachts, will be unveiled beginning this month with the start of boat show season throughout North America. Boat shows are a leading sales venue for the industry and a barometer for sales and buyer trends in the coming year. Marine manufacturers unveil their latest boats, engines and marine accessories at boat shows, offering them for sale for the first time, giving buyers an opportunity to buy the boat onsite and have it ready to launch in time for the spring boating season. At this year’s shows, buyers can expect a surge of new boats and marine accessories along with a focus on smaller boats that start at lower price points.

Noted Dammrich, “We’re seeing boat dealers and manufacturers increase their space at boat shows around the U.S., signaling their anticipation of a strong boat show buying season. We expect all boat segments to see growth at boat shows—from personal watercraft to small family runabouts to fishing boats and large cruising boats—especially with the variety of exciting new boats being offered and as more people turn to boating in an improving economy.”

U.S. recreational boating facts and figures (Source: NMMA)

  • Recreational boating retail expenditures (new and pre-owned boats and engines, trailers, accessories and services including fuel, repair, storage, insurance, taxes) increased 3.5 percent in 2013 to $36.8 billion.
  • Sales of powerboats (outboard, sterndrive, inboard and jet boats) were up 2.4 percent in 2013, reaching a total of 161,130 units. Unit sales are expected to have increased 5-7 percent in 2014 once numbers are calculated.
  • It’s not just new boats Americans are buying, there were an estimated 955,300 pre-owned boats (power, personal watercraft, and sail) sold in 2013.
  • Made in America: Ninety-five percent of powerboats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S. Recreational boating in the U.S. creates more than 338,500 marine industry jobs, supporting more than 34,800 businesses.
  • Americans are taking to the water in record numbers: Of the 242 million adults in the U.S. in 2013, 89 million participated in recreational boating at least once during the year – up one percent from 2012.
  • There were an estimated 12 million registered boats (power, sail, and some canoes/kayaks and other non-powered boats) in the U.S. in 2013 (the most recent data available).
  • Ninety-five percent of the boats on the water in the U.S. are 26 feet or less.
  • Seventy-two percent of American boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.

About NMMA: National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry in North America. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy advocacy, market statistics and research, product quality assurance and promotion of the boating lifestyle. For more information, visit NMMA.org.

Contact: Kelly Kaylor Rooney 312.946.6262

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