It was only April, but marine consumers had summer fun on their minds as sales of personal watercraft, jet boats and ski boats roared upward by margins ranging from 22 to 44 percent.
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Sizable gains in all three categories helped propel sales industrywide to 15,180 boats, a gain of 17.6 percent from the same month last year, according to figures compiled by Aarn Rosen, national sales manager at Statistical Surveys Inc.
Sales of PWC rose 21.8 percent to 2,501, sales of ski boats rose 28.2 percent to 409, and sales of jet boats surged 44.3 percent to 329.
Another category that showed dramatic growth during the month was aluminum pontoon boats ranging from 16 to 99 feet. Pontoon sales climbed 37.7 percent, to 2,329 boats.
Aluminum boats have helped to lead the industry’s recovery for more than a year. Sales of aluminum fishing boats from 16 to 99 feet rose 12.8 percent to 2,589, and gains in the aluminum categories were a major factor as sales in the industry’s main powerboat segments rose 16.9 percent to 10,053 boats.
Sales in the high-volume 11- to 40-foot outboard fiberglass segment were up 14.5 percent at 3,032 boats, and sales in the core 14- to 30-foot fiberglass category rose 8.9 percent to 1,856 boats.
“April numbers continue to reinforce a moderate market recovery, with sterndrives included in the mix,” Rosen said. “Pontoons continue to set the bar as far as year-over-year growth with volume.”
The sales data for April were based on information from 28 early reporting states that represent about 59 percent of the U.S. boat market. April sales represent 12 to 13 percent of the year’s retail activity.
Reports of sales of documented vessels were complete only through April 10 because of data entry delays at the Coast Guard, Rosen said, which means sales totals for boats 30 feet and larger were significantly understated in the data.
Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers were listed at 129, down by 10 boats, or 7.2 percent, from April 2011, and sales of 41- to 62-foot yachts dropped by nine boats, or 8.3 percent, to 100. There were 18 reported sales of 63- to 99-foot semicustom and custom yachts, two more than in April of 2011.
“Cruisers appear to be lagging the market, but as the Coast Guard continues to catch up, even the cruisers and big boats appear to be gaining ground,” Rosen said.
Sailboat sales rose 17.5 percent to 168 boats.
— Jack Atzinger