Consumers Jump Aboard as U.S. Boat Sales Look Lively for 2018


Consumers Jump Aboard as U.S. Boat Sales Look Lively for 2018

by Amy Lignor


For yet another year, the boat sales industry looks as if it is poised for further growth. And with the month of January beginning the busy selling season ahead, boating events and shows are being set up all across the country, making sure that this is one industry that will see no shortage of buyers. In fact, the outlook for new powerboats alone sees the industry increasing five to six percent in sales in the coming year.

It is the NMMA, National Marine Manufacturers Association that works as the leading trade organization for the recreational boating industry based in North America. Member companies produce more than 80% of the marine accessories, engines, trailers, boats, and a list of other gear for the recreational boater, commercial, and sport fishermen/women that number in the millions. Consumer confidence continues to expand allowing more and more manufacturers to create and introduce new boats and products that will appeal to the “up-and-coming,” new generation of boaters.


The president of NMMA reported that “2017 marked the sixth consecutive year” new boat sales and recreational boating expenditures grew in number. This trend is not only expected to continue through 2018, but also beyond, if recreational disposable income and consumer spending continue to rise; not to mention, with the historically low interest rates, the outlook becomes even more favorable.


This will be proven even more so as January moves forward, because manufacturers and dealers across the U.S. are planning for a hugely active winter boat show season ahead, which is the most important selling period with approximately 50% of the entire year’s sales done in this period of time. The latest products and industry innovations will debut at these events, and consumers are looking at receiving huge incentives as well as some of the best deals that will be found this entire year at these boat shows. In addition, various dealers and various boat models will be filling each location, which will give consumers an even greater ability to comparison shop.


Some of the biggest purchases, manufacturers believe, will come with versatile family fun boats that will attract new and younger boaters by offering a “complete” experience, from fishing to cruising to watersports. Sales are also expected to rise once again for ski and wake boats, pontoons and personal watercraft.


The second most popular, estimators believe, will be a rise in the sales of fishing boats. Being that fishing is the most popular activity done on a boat, and fishing boat sales are a major facet of the industry, both saltwater and freshwater boat sales are expected to rise at least two percent.


When it comes to cruisers (boats ranging 22 to 32 feet), the approximate gains in 2017 were quite large, anywhere between 9 and 10 percent. And with consumer spending at strong, stable levels, sales of these powerboats are expected to rise yet again.


All in all, the annual U.S. consumer spending on boats, products and marine services totaled $36 billion in 2016, climbing in 2017, and still expected to rise, with estimates exceeding 260,000 more units being sold during this year. But it will not be just new boats being marketed, there were an estimated 981,600 pre-owned boats (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) sold last year, which is yet another number that will continue to rise as more and more websites are beginning to list used watercraft for sale.


The boating industry is also a lifeline for many when it comes to American employment. With the continued growth the industry has seen over the years, they are now responsible for over 650,000 jobs as well as 35,000 small businesses. With numbers like that, it will not be a surprise to see a great many at the boat shows and events coming up over the next few months buying into and supporting that American ingenuity and skill.


So, for those who need to update their boat and those who have had a dream of being able to set out on the water for rest, relaxation and recreation one day, make sure not to miss the amazing new models and products that will appear at the upcoming boat shows and events in your area.





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