Small boat sales are leading the recovery, says NMMA

CHICAGO, Ill. – The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has reported an improving trend in small aluminum boat sales.

First quarter 2010 data from NMMA shows a slowing in sales declines of new powerboats – down 12 percent compared to a decline of 35 percent during the first quarter 2009, the group reported in a statement today.

Leading this recovery are small aluminum outboard boats. Sales of new aluminum powerboats in the 18-foot range increased 30 percent during the first quarter of 2010. This increase in aluminum boat sales provides an early indicator that a recovery in new boat sales is coming, the group stated.

“Consumer spending and consumer confidence increases in March and April have helped boost new aluminum outboard powerboat sales, leading a recovery for the recreational boating industry as overall new powerboat sales declines slow,” said Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA. “This growth can signal a return of the entry-level boater and the outdoors enthusiast and angler to boating and overall growing trend in fishing.”

Aluminum powerboats are typically used for fishing throughout inland and Great Lakes states. In fact, the top ten states for aluminum boat sales in 2009 in ranking order with corresponding new unit sales are: Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, and Georgia, NMMA reported.

“We anticipate 2010 new powerboat sales to remain flat with 2009 as the economic indicators that impact our industry – consumer confidence, housing and credit markets, as well as unemployment – start to improve and open the door for boat sales to begin increasing in 2011 and 2012,” noted Dammrich. “The growth in the aluminum outboard boat market is consistent with recent trends showing increased fishing license sales and is an indicator of the beginning of a turnaround for new boat sales. Consumer spending has been increasing for seven months and recreational boating will get its share of new consumer spending as the economy continues to recover.”

In addition, the NMMA’s 2009 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract reveals that boaters increased the time spent on their boats in 2009 by four percent. There were an estimated 66 million adult Americans who went boating in 2009, according to NMMA. These boaters helped drive an increase in the boat services sector (repairs/services, storage, insurance, taxes and interest payments) of nearly two percent in 2009 to $6.3 billion. Sales of pre-owned powerboats increased 7.7 percent to 780,300 and increased 5.4 percent in dollars for a retail value of $8.5 billion in 2009.

In a boating habits survey conducted in late April of a 4,200-person sampling of BoatU.S. members, 95 percent of respondents said the current economy would not stop them from using their boat this summer and 23 percent noted they would go boating more often this summer than last. The survey reported 78 percent of respondents said boating brings their family closer together. Sixty-eight percent said it has improved their social life, while 89 percent said it contributes to their health and wellness.

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