U.S. Boating Industry Forecasts Sales Momentum into Summer


CHICAGO – May 20, 2014 – The National Marine Manufacturers Association today announced that the recreational boating industry saw healthy growth in 2013, generating $36.7 billion in retail expenditures (new and pre-owned boats and engines, trailers, accessories and services), a 3.2% increase from 2012. An estimated 166,800 new powerboats and sailboats were sold at retail in 2013, an increase of 2.2%, coming on the heels of the industry’s 2012 rebound when new powerboat and sailboat retail sales increased 10.7% - the industry’s first sign of recovery. The NMMA is anticipating continued momentum with an additional 5-7% increase in retail sales of new boats in2014.
The NMMA released these findings as part of its U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, an annual collection of data and analysis on the state of the U.S. recreational boating industry being released June 1.
“As the nation’s economic recovery matures and boating businesses prepare for summer, a peak selling season for recreational boats, accessories and services, we expect to see continued stable growth in sales,” noted NMMA President Thom Dammrich. “Following a year of inclement weather throughout the U.S. driving pent-up demand and Americans taking to the water in record numbers, the industry is primed for a busy selling season.”
Versatile boats leading recovery, driving industry innovation
Ski and wakeboard boats, as well as fiberglass and aluminum outboard boats, led the industry’s growth in 2013. Ski and wakeboard boats continue to grow in popularity, with an 11% increase in the number of new boats sold at retail in 2013 to 6,100 units; outboard boats (pontoons, fishing boats and small family cruisers) were the most popular type of new powerboat sold in 2013, comprising approximately 84% of the powerboat market and up 5% to 134,800 units.
Additionally, the personal watercraft (PWC) category increased  2% compared to 2012 with 39,400 new craft sold at retail; and inboard cruisers leapt in retail sales 10% compared to the previous year with 2,200 new units sold in 2013.
What’s more, 2013 was the first time since pre-recession (2009) that the ratio of pre-owned boat to new boat sales decreased, indicating a shift in consumer demand for new boats.
“In 2013, we saw more manufacturers producing innovative boats that offer an entry into the boating lifestyle at a variety of price points. A trend in boat manufacturing is the versatile boat – one that can pull tubers or wake boarders, be used for fishing outings, relaxing with the family or entertaining,” noted Dammrich. “We’re seeing manufacturers shift their manufacturing processes, becoming leaner and more efficient, to be able to offer these innovative boats at a lower cost, in turn introducing more people to boating. Across the board, the boating industry recognizes the demand of the 88.5 million Americans who go boating and want to own a boat of their own and pass their water gene on to future generations.”
U.S. recreational boating by the numbers
  • Americans are taking to the water in record numbers: Of the 241.9 million adults in the US in 2013, 36.6%, or 88.5 million, participated in recreational boating at least once during 2013 – the second  highest percentage on record.
  • Fishing remains the most popular activity current participants engaged in while boating during 2013. Nearly 6 of 10 (57.8%) fished while boating while 19.3% canoed, followed by tubing (17.8%) and water-skiing (14.6%).
  • Boating is uniquely American: 95% of the boats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S.
  • 95% of boats on the water are 26 feet or less—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.
  • 71% of boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.

Leading the nation in sales of new powerboat, motor, trailer and accessories, the top ten boating states in 2013 are:

1.       Florida: $1,957,381,303, up 16% from 2012
2.       Texas: $1,176,972,535, down 2% from 2012
3.       Michigan: $656,110,750, up 2% from 2012
4.       Delaware: $574,322,347, up 19% from 2012
5.       Minnesota: $557,268,790, up 1% from 2012
6.       New York: $552,188,643, up 3% from 2012
7.       Wisconsin: $518,942,061, flat compared to 2012
8.       North Carolina: $508,241,300, up 4% from 2012
9.       Louisiana: $477,725,606, down 5% from 2012
10.     California: $431,696,279, up 18% from 2012
Source: The NMMA’s 2013 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, which can be downloaded and purchased within the Statistics section’s Research Library on NMMA.org beginning June 1, 2014. For excerpts and additional data from the Abstract, please contact Sarah Ryser at [email protected], 312-946-6285.
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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.