It’s official: 2012 was a comeback year for the recreational boating industry.
Soundings Trade Only reported that industrywide sales rose 9.4% to 196,519 boats, and sales in the main powerboat segments climbed 11.2% to 121,789 compared with the previous year. The totals represent 26 early reporting states that represent 64% of the nation’s boat market, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
Sales were weak during the traditionally slow month of December, but that did little to dispel the notion that the industry has forged a potentially enduring recovery. For the year, sales of 11- to 40-foot outboard fiberglass boats rose 12.9% to 35,257 in the early reporting states and sales of aluminum pontoon boats rose 20.9% to 32,934.
Pontoons and aluminum fishing boats were sales leaders throughout the year. Fishing boat sales rose 9.1% to 36,402.
Unless the economy suffers a shock in 2013, “I really think we’ll continue this slow, moderate growth,” said Ryan Kloppe, national marine sales manager at Statistical Surveys.
Slowed by the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, Kloppe said, the industry didn’t have much to celebrate in December. Industrywide sales rose just 1.1 percent to 3,351 in the early reporting states and sales in the main segments rose only 1.3 percent to 2,285.
“The full amount of relief hasn’t come to [the areas affected by Sandy],” he said.
December sales traditionally represent only about 2 percent of the year’s total volume.