Recreational boat sales slipped in April for the third month in a row as the spring selling season continued to disappoint the industry.
Sounding Trades Only reported that even the aluminum pontoon category, a standout during the recovery that began last year, lost ground. Pontoon sales fell 3.6% to 2,522 boats from the same month a year earlier in 30 early reporting states that comprise 67% of the national market, according to figures compiled by Statistical Surveys Inc.
Sales of aluminum fishing boats were up 3.8% to 3,365, helping to balance the decline among pontoons and typifying an up-and-down April pattern among the industry’s main powerboat segments, a group that consists of two aluminum and five fiberglass categories. Sales for the group were close to flat, falling 0.7%, or 70 boats, to 10,610.
Industrywide, sales in the early-reporting states were 5.2 lower for the month at 15,824 boats. A year ago, with all 50 states reporting, sales totaled 26,130 in April, up from 22,415 in the same month in 2011.
“There’s no way to sugarcoat [the April results],” said Ryan Kloppe, national marine sales manager at Statistical Surveys, noting the uneven category-to-category results.
Builders blamed poor March sales on chilly, wet early spring weather and Kloppe agreed that April was still a cold month in the Midwest, but he said the weather was improving by the end of the month, leaving no easy answer for why sales continue to lag.
Kloppe said he has spoken to dealers who told him they have made sales that haven’t been reported because the boats have yet to be delivered.
“I’m eagerly expecting the [50-state] quarterly numbers to see whether we can even out [some of the inconsistencies],” he said. Those figures will be available by mid-June.
With one month to go in the spring selling season, sales were down 3.9% for the year at 29,272 boats in the main segments and 8.1% industrywide at 42,710.