The annual Boating Industry Market Data Book is your guide to the most important market intelligence shaping the marine industry.
The entire issue is available for purchase in our Digital Downloads section of the website, but here is a taste of some of the info available in this year's edition. For more charts and analysis, be sure to check out the full edition. You can view the full Table of Contents for the issue here. (If you're a subscriber, your issue should have already arrived or is on its way.)
After years of increases for the average buyer age, the recreational boating industry has effectively moved the needle back to zero, according to analysis by Info-Link.
The overall age of the average boat buyer, across all types and propulsions, was 52.4 in 2013 and 51.9 in 2014. Movement of a half point or less is not enough data to establish any long-term trends but it does mark the end of the increasing trend we have seen for a decade.
“What we’ve been seeing for 10 years in a row is boaters being six months older every year, so even having that move back to zero is an improvement over the trend that’s been in place for the last 10 years,” said Peter Houseworth, director of client services at Info-Link. “Just even that is a positive sign and I would expect it’s indicative of movement that we’ll see. When we look at this another year we’ll
probably see another decline. … It’s good to finally see that because the industry has been focused on [the age increase] for a long time.”
Annual Dealer Survey
Most dealers are optimistic about growing sales for the rest of 2015 after a successful 2014.
That’s according to the annual Boating Industry Dealer Survey, which found that 73 percent of dealers expect to grow their revenue this year and 44 percent expected it to increase by more than 10 percent from 2014. Only 8 percent expect their revenue to decrease for the year.
Those numbers are ahead of 2014’s results, when 69 percent expected to grow their business and 16 percent expected to see it decline. Those predictions ended up being on target with the 2014
results, as 73 percent of dealers reported higher revenues for 2014 in this year’s survey and 15 percent had a decline.
The number of Americans participating in boating declined again in 2014 but continues to be near 2012’s record high.
About 87 million adult Americans participated in boating activities in 2014, representing 35.7 percent of the adult population. That’s the third-highest mark since NMMA began tracking the information, behind only 2013 at 36.6 percent and the 2012 peak of 37.8 percent.
And even though boat sales have not reached their pre-recession heights, participation is well ahead of the 2005 bottom of 25.9 percent participation. That could mean pent-up demand that may drive
sales going forward.
Participation in fishing, still a top driver for boating, grew slightly in 2014. About 46 million Americans fished in 2014, up from 45.9 million in 2013, but still down from 2012’s 47 million, according to the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. The industry’s outreach efforts seem to be working, too, as more than 2.4 million people tried fishing for the first time in 2014. Among adult outdoor participants, fishing is the second-most popular activity.
There’s also potential for more diversity in the industry. The number of female anglers increased by 13 percent from 2013 to 2014 and women were 47 percent of first-time participants.