CHICAGO - New boat retail sales grew more than 7 percent, to $10.7 billion in 2004, and total retail expenditures on boating reached $33 billion in 2004 - an 8 percent increase compared to 2003 - the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported today as numbers from its 2004 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract were released.
In a press release this morning, NMMA also cited statistics released today by Info-Link Technologies that show new-boat sales were up four percent in the first quarter of 2005, based on Info-Link's rolling twelve-month retail sales report.
NMMA president Thom Dammrich said boat sales benefited from a strong economy in 2004.
“The Gross Domestic Product increased 3.6. percent, unemployment experienced steady decline, and consumer confidence reached its apex in July at the peak of the boating season,” Dammrich said. “All these factors combined to make 2004 an outstanding year for boating. In addition, there are a great number of products that suit a variety of lifestyles and budgets, which has attracted more consumers to boating as they look to spend more quality time with family and friends.”
NMMA said sales of aftermarket accessories increased 14 percent, continuing an upward sales trend that began in 1997. Jim Petru, director of market research at NMMA, 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, yet 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,” Petru said.
There were also more boats were on the water in 2004 than in 2003, continuing a trend that dates back nearly a decade. There were more than 17.6 million boats in use in 2004, as outboard boats remained the most popular model, accounting for nearly half of all boats on the nation's waterways.
Favorable exchange rates resulted in a 30 percent decline in the boating industry trade deficit, as the value of exported boats and engines increased 42.7 percent in 2004 to $1.5 billion. Meanwhile, boat and engine imports only increased 5.6 percent 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.
Sales of exported boats and engines increased by 43 percent in 2004, to $1.55 billion, thanks in large part to more favorable exchange rates, NMMA reported. Western Europe was the largest market, accounting for 38 percent of total export value, followed by Canada, with 27 percent of total export value and the Australia/Pacific region (12 percent).
NMMA's 2004 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract will be release at the end of May. It 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; firstname.lastname@example.org.
NMMA represents more than 1,500 companies that develop and manufacture approximately 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, and accessories used by the estimated 69 million Americans who participate in recreational boating.
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