With Memorial Day marking the kickoff to the summer boating season, the National Marine Manufacturers Association reported Wednesday healthy growth for the $35.4 billion U.S. recreational boating industry, with an estimated 171,500 new powerboats sold in 2014, an increase of 6.4 percent over 2013.
Categories seeing growth within the powerboat segment include jet drive boats, up 16.7 percent to 3,500 units; ski/wakeboard boats, up 16.4 percent to 7,100 units; and outboard boats, up 7.4 percent to 144,800 units. NMMA anticipates sales of new powerboats to continue growing through 2015 with an increase in unit sales of as much as five to seven percent.
“We’re seeing sales increases across a number of boat categories with the largest increase from smaller fiberglass and aluminum outboard powerboats—a segment that remains the market share leader given their continued versatility and variety of price points and sizes,” said NMMA president Thom Dammrich. “Marine manufacturers have been introducing smaller, more versatile boats at lower price points that can be used for activities from fishing to cruising with family and friends, making boating even more accessible for newcomers.”
The popular outboard boat segment, which includes pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, and small fiberglass cruising boats, comprised approximately 84.4 percent of the overall powerboat market. Outboard boats were the most popular type of new powerboat sold in 2014.
In addition to new powerboats, new sailboats sold at retail increased 33.9 percent to 7,500 units and new personal watercraft sales increased 21.6 percent to 47,900 units.
“Spring and summer are key selling periods for new boats and we are off to a good start with warmer weather and lower gas prices helping to boost boat sales,” noted Dammrich. “After a strong 2014, we expect to see continued growth in 2015 by as much as five to seven percent.”
Boating by the numbers
- U.S. expenditures on boats, engines, accessories, and related costs totaled $35.4 billion in 2014.
- The recreational boating industry in the U.S. has an annual economic impact of more than $121.5 billion (includes direct, indirect and induced spending), supporting 650,015 direct and indirect American jobs and nearly 35,000 businesses.
- Annual retail sales of new boats, engines & marine accessories in the U.S. totaled $16.4 billion in 2014.
- Americans are taking to the water: 35.7 percent of the U.S. adult population – 87.3 million Americans – participated in recreational boating at least once in 2014.
- Boats are uniquely made in America: 94.9 percent of powerboats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S.
- There were an estimated 12 million registered boats in the U.S. in 2014.
- 95 percent percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) in the U.S. are small in size at less than 26 feet—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.
- It’s not just new boats Americans are buying, there were an estimated 940,500 pre-owned boats (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) sold in 2014.
- Boating is primarily a middle-class lifestyle as 71.5% of American boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.
Leading the nation in sales of new powerboat, motor, trailer and accessories, the top ten boating states in 2014 were:
- Florida: $2.3 billion, up 22.5% from 2013
- Texas: $1.3 billion, up 11.9% from 2013
- Michigan: $762.4 million, up 13.1% from 2013
- Minnesota: $601.5 million, up 3.9% from 2013
- New York: $597.8 million, up 7.3% from 2013
- North Carolina: $580.2 million, up 16.9% from 2013
- Wisconsin: $560.3 million, up 2.9% from 2013
- California: $546.8 million, up 20.9% from 2013
- Louisiana: $529.9 million, up 11% from 2013
- Alabama: $457.7 million, up 19.6% from 2013
NMMA released this new data as part of its 2014 U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, an annual compilation of data and analysis on the state of the U.S. recreational boating industry.