From the Archives: Boating the Nation’s Top Family Sport in 1958

The 710-page(!!!) January 1959 issue features a fascinating look at the state of the boating industry in the 1950s.

It's loaded with stats that shine a light on what was a booming market as Americans spent their post-war dollars on boating. Think of it as a precursor of our annual Market Data Book.

To put some of these numbers in perspective, consider these stats about the United States at the time:

  • 177.4 million population (now 318.9 million)
  • Average household income: $5,100 (now $51,939)

Some stats that jumped out at me from the issue:

  • 37 million people participated in boating
  • $2.085 billion retail spending on boating, having climbed from $645 million in 1951
  • 7.3 million boats in use, up from 4.3 million in 1952
  • The average outboard sold was 20.7hp and cost an average of $466
  • Just like today's wake surfing, water sports were helping to grow the industry, with 17.7 percent saying they bought their boat for skiing, up from 7 percent in 1955.
  • Nearly half (48.3 percent) of boats purchased were 13' 7" to 14' 6". Only 2.8 percent were more than 17' 6".
  • There were 168,000 trailers sold

See more of the article here.


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