The recreational boating industry’s growth engines sputtered in March amid inclement early spring weather as overall sales dropped for the second month in a row after a year of recovery and consistent gains.
Soundings Trade Only reported that sales of aluminum pontoon boats rose just 1.3%, or 18, to 1,386 from the same month last year in early reporting states and sales of 11- to 40-foot outboard fiberglass boats were virtually flat, dropping by 15, or 0.5%, to 2,767, according to Statistical Surveys Inc.
Both categories were sales leaders in 2012 as the industry began to turn its fortunes around after the recession ended.
Sales in the industry’s main powerboat segments, which consist of five fiberglass and two aluminum categories, fell 5.9% to 7,257 and industrywide sales dropped 10.7% to 10,564 in 27 states that represent about 63 percen%
A year earlier, with all 50 states reporting, main-segments sales rose 16% while industrywide sales climbed 14%
The industry is at the midpoint of the spring selling season, which runs through May. March sales represent 11.4 to 12.6 percent of the year’s retail activity.
Statistical Surveys National Marine Sales Manager Ryan Kloppe said chilly, wet weather limited sales in March.
“I don’t think the recovery is in jeopardy,” he said. “In March last year it was 82 degrees in the Midwest and sunny. This year it was 42 degrees and it was raining and snowing.”
Kloppe said builders and dealers told him they’ve seen good attendance at boat shows, but that poor weather, particularly in the Midwest, has discouraged people from buying.
“They expect slight growth as soon as the weather warms and people start purchasing boats,” he said.