U.S. boat sales increase 4% in 2018, hitting the highest levels in more than a decade

CHICAGO–(COMMERCIAL THREAD) – As the summer boating season kicks off this weekend, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) today announced new data that shows unit sales of new powerboats in the United States have reached 276,000 in 2018, a 4% increase from 2017, the highest levels the U.S. boating industry has seen in 11 years.

Marine spending, spending on boats, engines, trailers, accessories and related services, hit a record high in 2018, at $ 42 billion, up 7% from 2017.

“New boat sales and navigation spending have been steadily increasing over the past eight years, with some segments reaching pre-recession sales volumes, ”said Thom Dammrich, President of NMMA. “As millions of Americans head for the water this summer, manufacturers and marine dealers are gearing up for the busy selling season that coincides with peak boating months. With high consumer confidence, low unemployment, rising wages and sustained interest rates, we expect the recreational boating market to remain healthy over the coming year with modest growth of up to 2%. % of new motor boat sales in 2019. ”

The increase in sales of new motorboats in 2018 was driven by:

  • Outboard boat sales increased by 3% to reach 177,600 units in 2018; accounting for 85 percent of new traditional powerboats sold, and includes pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, as well as small fiberglass cruise ships.
  • Watercraft sales increased by 8% to reach 69,000 units in 2018; often seen as a gateway to boat ownership.
  • Wakesport boat sales increased by 10% to reach 10,500 units in 2018; popular with new and younger boaters for wakesurfing and wakeboarding.
  • Cruiser sales increased 3% to 9,000 units in 2018; ranging from 22 to 32 feet and geared towards entertainment and ‘cruising’.
  • Propulsion boat sales increased 4% to 5,900 units in 2018; small fiberglass boats that use jet engine technology to propel the boat.

Boating in the United States by the Numbers

For a more in-depth look at the state of the boating industry in the United States, below are key statistics that provide information on the size, makeup, and demographics of the industry.

  • Boating contributes an estimated $ 170.3 billion in economic activity to the U.S. economy, an increase of approximately $ 49 billion since the association last reported an economic impact in 20121.

  • The following 10 states are the national leaders in sales of new powerboats, engines, trailers and accessories in 2018:
    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
    seven. New York: $ 775 million, up 5% from 2017
    California: $ 765 million, up 6% from 2017
    9. Georgia: $ 680 million, up 8% from 2017
    ten. Caroline from the south: $ 661 million, up 4% from 2017

  • It’s not just new boats that Americans are buying; an estimated 976,200 used boats (powerboats, personal watercraft and sailboats) were sold in 2018, down slightly (1%) from 2017.

  • Almost 12 million boats were registered / documented in the United States in 2017 (2018 data will be available at the end of the summer).

  • Ninety-five percent of boats on the water (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) in the United States are small, measuring less than 26 feet in length, boats that can be towed by a vehicle to the local waterways.

  • Sixty-two percent of boat owners have a family income of less than $ 100,000.

About NMMA: The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the premier trade organization for the North American boating industry. NMMA member companies produce more than 80% of the boats, engines, trailers, marine accessories and equipment used by millions of boaters in North America. The association serves its members and their sales and service networks by improving the recreational boating business environment, including providing national and international sales and marketing opportunities, reducing unnecessary government regulations, decreasing cost of doing business and helping to increase participation in boating. As the largest producer of boat and sporting shows in the United States, the NMMA connects the boating industry with boat consumers throughout the year. Learn more at www.nmma.org and engage with us on Twitter
and LinkedIn.


1 That figure includes $ 20.5 billion in tax revenue for businesses, which was not included in the NMMA’s 2012 Economic Impact Study.

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