As some homeowners remain underwater and gas prices drown consumer’s discretionary incomes, boat sales remain afloat.
“There has been a resurgence,” said metro-east boat retailer Ken Cope. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better.”
Cope, proprietor of Cope Marine in O’Fallon, has seen a flow of customers shopping for water craft. He said his business offers consumers a more affordable and environmentally safer alternative than travel.
Shane Cope (at right) hooks up a boat trailer to the pickup truck hitch of customer Anthony Davis (left) at the Cope Marine facility in O’Fallon. Cope is vice-president of the company and was helping Smith prepare for the trip back to Davis’ hometown of Decatur. Davis had found the boat for sale via Internet searches and Cope’s website, and traveled to the boat dealer Thursday to finalize the sale and take possession of the boat, which he’ll use for fishing. – Tim Vizer/BND
“You can spend $10,000 to $35,000 or $40,000 on a boat and use it your entire life,” he said. “If you take care of it, it can last forever.”
The recreational boating industry’s leading trade group, National Marine Manufacturers Association, is reporting a resurgent retail boating market. The association released findings from its annual Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract last week and found that 75 million U.S. adults, 32 percent of the population, participated in recreational boating last year. That is an increase of 14 percent over 2009 and the highest proportion of participation since 1999.
The association also revealed that those 75 million Americans who took to the water in 2010 are floating the industry. After-market accessory sales increased by 6 percent to $2.4 billion over the past two years. Spending per boat averaged $147 for 2010, also up 6 percent from 2009. The association estimates 17 million boats are in use across the nation.