Sales up in U.S., slide in Canada

Powerboat sales were up 5 to 7 percent in 2014 in the United States and are expected to grow another 5 percent this year, according to new estimates from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

That positive wave didn’t carry over to Canada, though, as unit sales north of the border dropped 7.2 percent for the period October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014, NMMA reported. Unit sales were down in nearly all categories with significant volume except personal watercraft, which increased 3.9 percent.

Total Canadian new boat and engine retail dollar sales totaled $2 billion in 2014, down 2.3 percent from the prior year.

In the United States, this is the industry’s third consecutive year of steady growth coming out of the recession. 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, NMMA reported.

The strongest sales came from new ski/wakeboard boats, pontoon boats, aluminum fishing boats, fiberglass runabouts and personal watercraft.

“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 NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “Should these economic indicators remain positive, we anticipate sales growth of new boats to continue over the next three years.”

Participation rates continue to be encouraging. In Canada, 46 percent of adult Canadians (13.2 million people) participated in recreational boating. This is the highest percentage of participation since NMMA began collecting the data in 2011.

In 2013 (the latest year available) 89 million Americans participated in boating, a record number.

With overall economic indicators strong in Canada, Dammrich said there are continued reasons for optimism despite the 2014 drop in sales.

The latest economic indicators show that the Canadian economy grew at an annualized 2.8 percent in the third quarter of 2014 and unemployment dropped to a near six-year low of 6.6 percent as of December.

“The Canadian recreational boating industry continues to be a significant contributor to the Canadian economy, generating $2 billion in sales from new boat and engines and $985.2 million in pre-owned boat sales from September 2013 through October 2014,” noted Dammrich. “It’s likely that cold weather, which dampened the prime boating season from May through September, contributed to sales declines during the period. In light of these declines, we remain optimistic about the state of the recreational boating industry as a result of the healthy sales we’ve seen the past few years, the continued growth we’re seeing in participation, and the strength of the market overall, especially with bright spots in personal watercraft and new boat sales in British Columbia.”

New boat and engine sales declined in nearly all provinces in 2014, except British Columbia, where retail unit sales were up 3 percent year-over-year, buoyed by 7.5 percent growth in new outboard engine sales in that region. In 2014, 14.2 percent of total new boat and engine retail unit sales took place in British Columbia.

Pre-owned boat sales in Canada totaled 60,085 units in 2014, down 3.5 percent from the prior year, with unit declines spread across all segments. Corresponding dollars totaled $985.2 million, down 6.9 percent for the year. The average cost of a pre-owned boat ranged from $2,533 to $110,194 depending on boat type.

Pre-owned boat sales in Alberta and Saskatchewan were up 3.3 percent and 3.5 percent respectively, in 2014, offsetting declines in other provinces.


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