Total retail expenditures on boating reached $33 billion in 2004, an eight percent increase compared to 2003, according to the 2004 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, scheduled to be released in late May by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
“Boat sales benefited from a strong economy in 2004,” says NMMA president Thom Dammrich. “The Gross Domestic Product increased 3.6%, unemployment experienced steady decline, and consumer confidence reached its apex in July at the peak of the boating season. All these factors combined to make 2004 an outstanding year for the boating industry.”
Abstract Reveals Trends
An increase in total retail expenditures was recorded for each of the major industry segments tracked in the Abstract. Accessory aftermarket sales led the way, continuing a trend toward higher sales that started in 1997. In 2004, aftermarket accessory sales increased 14% to $2.4 billion, approximately doubling from 1997, when sales eclipsed $1.2 billion.
NMMA director of Market Research Jim Petru says that accessories are in high demand because consumers want to turn their boats into a home away from home.
“For many boaters, their time on the water is a vacation; they’re able to escape the daily grind on land but they still want a boat with all the comforts of home, including state of the art entertainment equipment, like computers, DVD players and satellite radios,” said Petru.
Demonstrating continued consumer interest in boating, new boat sales increased 7.2% in 2004 to $10.75 billion, while pre-owned power boat sales reached $7.9 billion (7.3% increase), new outboard motors totaled $2.9 billion in sales (12.8% increase), pre-owned outboard motor sales increased 12.7% to $1.8 billion, and trailer sales recorded $228 million in sales, representing a 12.9% increase.
Delving further into the new boat category sales numbers, the Abstract shows that seven out of ten categories of boats had positive growth last year. Unit sales of inboard cruisers increased 6.2%, while outboard boat unit sales grew 4.6% compared to 2003. Increases were also recorded in the Ski Boat, Sterndrive Boat, Canoe, Kayak, and Inflatable categories.
Industry Trade Deficit Cut By 30%
Favorable exchange rates resulted in a 30% decline in the boating industry trade deficit, as the value of exported boats and engines increased 42.7% in 2004 to $1.5 billion. Meanwhile, boat and engine imports only increased 5.6% to $2.3 billion in 2004, leading to a trade deficit of a little more than $795 million, down from $1.13 billion in 2003, and at its lowest level since 2000. Western Europe is the biggest market for U.S. exporters, accounting for 38% of total exports, followed by Canada (27%) and the Australia/Pacific region (12%).
NMMA’s 2004 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract contains more than 100 pages of data, and retails for $450 (NMMA members receive a discount rate of $225). For ordering information, contact Chris Keil in NMMA’s
fulfillment department at 312/946-6209; email@example.com.