U.S. Boat Sales Remain At High Levels, Strong Forecast: NMMA


What is good news for boat builders is also good news for marine trailer builders. the National Association of Boat Manufacturers (NMMA) reports that when finalizing 2019 sales figures, retail sales of new powerboats are expected to remain in 2019 at around 280,000 units, the second highest total since 2007. The show season Busy winter boating kicks off this week across the country with new powerboat sales expected to grow 2% in 2020.

“Sales in 2019 were almost on par with the 11-year high we saw in 2018, even with some slowdown especially in the freshwater fishing category, which we attribute to the unusually cold and rainy weather in the spring and summer. early summer, ”said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the NMMA. “In 2020, with the economy on solid foundations and key economic indicators such as consumer spending remaining strong, we expect another healthy year for new boat sales, which could increase by up to 2%. ”

The following new categories of powerboats boosted retail unit sales in 2019:

  • New watercraft sales are estimated to be up 6% to 73,000 units in 2019; With affordable entry-level prices, personal watercraft are often seen as a gateway to boat ownership.
  • New sales wake sport boats– popular for wakesurfing and wakeboarding and appealing to new and younger boaters – is expected to be up 6% to 11,000 units in 2019.
  • New cruiser sales – boats between 22 and 32 feet, popular for relaxing, entertaining and “cruising” – are estimated to be up 3% to 9,000 units in 2019.

However, new freshwater fishing boat sales, a high-volume category, are estimated to be down 7% to 69,000 units in 2019.

U.S. boat builders and dealers gear up for winter boat show season across the country, a major marketing venue where manufacturers showcase their latest products and consumers come to buy. Based on the association’s estimates, boat shows can generate 50% or more of the annual sales of exhibiting dealers and manufacturers.

Boating in the United States by the Numbers

Additional statistics on the size, makeup and demographics of the industry include:

  • Annual sales of boats, marine products and services in the United States are estimated at $ 42 billion in 2019, up slightly from 2018.
  • Retail unit sales of new boats are estimated to have reached around 280,000 units in 2019, the second highest level since 2007 and stable with 2018 totals.
  • The following 10 states (2019 estimates available in spring) were 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 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. Caroline from the south: $ 661 million, up 4% from 2017

  • 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.
  • There were approximately 11.9 million registered and documented boats in the United States in 2019, relatively unchanged from 2018.
  • 95% 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 local waterways.
  • 62% of boat owners have a family income of less than $ 100,000, which makes boating a recreational activity firmly reserved for the middle class.
  • Outdoor recreation accounts for 2.2% of U.S. GDP, generating $ 778 billion in gross economic output, on par with the telecommunications industry (2.3%), of which boating and fishing is the segment. most important, contributing nearly $ 40 billion in gross output. (Source: US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis)
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