GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Retail sales of fiberglass and aluminum boats and of personal watercraft (PWCs) all improved during the third quarter of 2003, although not enough to offset the declines that occurred during the first half of last year, according to Statistical Surveys Inc., an independent market research firm.
Retail sales of fiberglass boats 14 feet and longer increased 4.7 percent during the July-through-September portion of 2003 to 48,302 units, while dealership sales of fiberglass boats shorter than 14 feet increased 4.0 percent during the same period to 33,700 units, Statistical Surveys reported.
Statistical Surveys distinguishes between boats longer and shorter than 14 feet because the vast majority of PWCs are less than 14 feet long while most traditional fiberglass boats are longer than 14 feet.
However, despite the increases in the third quarter, retail sales of fiberglass boats 14 feet and longer were down 3.4 percent during the first nine months of 2003 to 137,762 units, compared with 142,604 units sold by dealers during the same portion of 2002.
In the case of PWCs, retail sales declined 3.0 percent during the first nine months of 2003 to 77,413 units, compared with 79,843 units sold by dealers during the same portion of 2002.
Meanwhile, aluminum boat sales increased 1.1 percent in the third quarter to 30,968 units, but after the first nine months of 2003, aluminum boat sales were down 6.3 percent to 101,084 units, compared with 107,884 units retailed during the same portion of 2002.
Statistical Surveys was able to gather retail sales figures from 43 states, which account for about 92 percent of the U.S. boat market. Among the states not included was Illinois, which was unable to get its numbers to Statistical Surveys in time.
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— Jeff Kurowski