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Boating Industry Continues Rebound

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) today announces that as 2013 comes to a close, the U.S. recreational boating industry will continue its post-recession climb with an estimated 5 percent increase in new powerboat retail sales. The increase comes on the heels of the industry’s 2012 rebound when new powerboat retail sales increased 10 percent—the industry’s first sign of recovery. In 2014, NMMA expects the recreational power boat sales will continue to grow another 5-7 percent.

What’s more, retail dollar sales of new powerboats are expected to be up 8 percent in 2013, signaling that the mix of boats being purchased includes higher priced boats and that Americans are investing more in boating.

“The housing market has improved, consumer confidence has steadily increased the last two years, and consumer spending is on the rise—all factors that are helping to fuel stable growth for the U.S. recreational boating industry and further sales in 2013. In addition, we’re seeing more and more Americans take to the water, as our participation numbers are at an all-time high—88 million Americans went boating in 2012. This indicates that with experience on the water comes an interest in life on the water and the subsequent purchase of a boat,” noted Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA. “If economic growth persists and the recreational boating industry continues gaining participants, we anticipate sustained growth in 2014 and into 2015 and 2016.”

Leading the industry’s growth are small fiberglass and aluminum outboard boats 26 feet or less in size, which continued their upward climb in 2013 with a 6.7 percent increase in the number of new boats sold; and ski and wakeboard boats, with an 11.7 percent increase in sales.

To further attract the growing number of boating enthusiasts, the recreational boating industry will unveil its latest innovations at annual boat shows across the country in January and February, kicking off in Manhattan on New Year’s Day at the Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show. Boat shows, which attract more than one million people annually, are where manufacturers launch new boats and marine gear for purchase. The shows are a primary sales venue for the industry and barometer for things to come, as they provide a glimpse of buyer trends and sales for the year ahead.

U.S. recreational boating facts and figures (source: NMMA)

  • American Made
    • Recreational boating in the US is a $35 billion industry and creates 338,526 marine industry jobs (manufacturing, dealers/wholesalers, services) at 34,833 marine industry businesses.
    • 93 percent of the boats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S.
  • Recreational boating retail expenditures (new and pre-owned boats and engines, trailers, accessories and services including fuel, repair, storage, insurance, taxes) increased 10 percent in 2012 to $35.6 billion.
  • Retail sales of new powerboats increased 10.1 percent in 2012.
  • Retail sales of new power and sailboats increased 10.7 percent in 2012 to 163,245 boats, demonstrating the first significant sign of a post-recession recovery for the industry.
  • It’s not just new boats Americans are buying. There were an estimated 969,000 pre-owned boats (power, PWCs, and sail) sold in 2012, an increase of 6 percent from 2011.
  • Americans are taking to the water in record numbers: Of the 232.3 million adults in the US in 2012, 37.8 percent, or 88 million, participated in recreational boating at least once during the year. This is a 6 percent increase from 2011 and the largest number of US adults participating in boating since NMMA began collecting the data in 1990.
  • There were an estimated 12.1 million registered boats (power, sail, and some canoes/kayaks and other non-powered boats) in the U.S. in 2012.
  • Fishing remains the number one (63 percent) boating activity current participants engaged in while boating in 2012; 20 percent went tubing, 17 percent went waterskiing and 9 percent went wakeboarding for a total of 46 percent who participated in watersports (tubing, waterskiing, wakeboarding).
  • 95 percent of the boats on the water are 26 feet or less.
  • 76 percent of boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.

About NMMA: National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) is the leading association representing the recreational boating industry in North America. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The association is dedicated to industry growth through programs in public policy advocacy, market statistics and research, product quality assurance and promotion of the boating lifestyle. For more information, visit NMMA.org.

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