Heading to the Duluth Boat Show next weekend and looking to buy a new boat? You are not alone.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association estimates that boat shows in the United States generate about half of all boat sales each year. And those sales are expected to be strong in 2020, up 2% from 2019 and among the best in the past decade, topping $42 billion in sales nationwide.
NMMA says retail unit sales of new motorboats in 2019 – final figures are not yet known – are estimated to have remained flat with 2018 at around 280,000 units, the second highest total since 2007.
“Sales in 2019 were nearly on par with the 11-year high we experienced in 2018, although with some slowdown, particularly in the freshwater fishing category, which we attribute to unusually cold and rainy weather. spring and early summer,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA President. “Looking at 2020, with a strong economy and key economic indicators like consumer spending remaining strong, we expect another healthy year for new boat sales.”
Tyler Beste, salesman at MAC Sport and Marine in Superior, said he’s not sure half of his sales start at the boat show. But the show, where buyers have the chance to step into new models and ogle over the latest bells and whistles, is boosting business. MAC, like several other boat dealers, will have a big screen at the Duluth show with about 15 boats on hand with special boat show promotions.
“We have people writing the check right there. But others, I end up talking to them for another three months before they buy. But the show is good for us for sure,” Beste said.
Beste said sales of aluminum fishing boats locally bucked the national trend and were “at least as strong as they have been in recent years,” and that pontoon boats remain an important part of overall sales as more and more of people buy them not only to stay at the cabin. but to tow from lake to lake. Pontoons are also getting bigger, with more amenities and bigger engines.
“Pontoons are probably half of our boat sales,” Beste noted.
Nationally, among the top sellers in 2019 were new personal watercraft sales, estimated up 6% to 73,000. entrance to the property of a boat. Sales of new water sports boats, popular for wake surfing and wakeboarding and appealing to new and younger boaters, are estimated to have increased 6% to 11,000 units in 2019. Lakes — are estimated up 3% to 9,000 units in 2019.
Sales of new freshwater fishing boats, the typical boat bought and used in Northland, were estimated down 7% to 69,000 units in 2019.
It’s not just new boats that Americans are buying; it is estimated that around 975,000 used boats were sold in 2019, down slightly from 2018.
California, Florida and Michigan have the most registered boats per state, in that order, followed by Minnesota and Wisconsin. But Minnesota has the highest number of boat owners per capita in the country – nearly 15% of us own boats. Wisconsin is the second highest per capita with almost 11% boat ownership.
Here are the top 10 states for new boat sales in dollars for 2018 (final 2019 numbers not yet available) according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association:
1. Florida: $3.2 billion, up 8% from 2017
2. Texas: $1.8 billion, up 9% from 2017
3. Michigan: $1.1 billion, up 10% from 2017
4. North Carolina: $914 million, up 9% from 2017
5. Minnesota: $861 million, up 6% from 2017
6. Wisconsin: $781 million, up 9% from 2017
7. New York: $775 million, up 5% from 2017
8. California: $765 million, up 6% from 2017
9. Georgia: $680 million, up 8% from 2017
10. South Carolina: $661 million, up 4% from 2017