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Boat sales have best 2017 month in May

Posted on June 22nd, 2017 Written by Jack Atzinger

The recreational boat industry had its strongest month this year in May as sales rose in all but two categories and some segments posted double-digit gains.

Sales climbed 8.5 percent, or 1,159 boats, to 14,740 in the main powerboat segments and 8 percent, or 1,699, to 22,926 industrywide from the same month last year in 23 states that represent about 56 percent of the U.S. boat market, Statistical Surveys reported today.

Percentagewise the gains were the best since January. Total sales for May were the highest for any month this year, and they came at the midpoint of the April-to-July selling season.

“It’s definitely our best month of the year, with strong growth in our major segments,” said Ryan Kloppe, Statistical Surveys’ sales director, citing gains in the aluminum fishing and pontoon categories and among fiberglass outboards.

“And PWC continues its double-digit growth,” he said.

Kloppe said that although boat sales got off to a slow start this year, Statistical Surveys was expecting strong May results because of conversations the company had with builders and dealers.

“I think it will be good for the industry to see these numbers,” he said. “This is definitely going to put us on pace for 4 to 6 percent growth this year.”

For the year through May, sales are up 3.3 percent, or 2,105, at 65,020 in the main segments and 3.5 percent, or 3,198, at 93,735 industrywide in the early-reporting states.

Among the main segments, sales of 11- to 50-foot fiberglass outboards soared 10.5 percent, or 459, to 4,831, and sales of aluminum fishing boats climbed 9.8 percent, or 270, to 3,028. Aluminum pontoon boat sales rose 7.5 percent, or 331, to 4,741.

Outside the main segments, sales of personal watercraft rose by double digits for the third month in a row. PWC sales climbed 12.8 percent, or 700, to 6,164, and they are up by 10.6 percent, at 17,768, through May in the early-reporting states.

Sales of ski and wake boats, one of the main segments, climbed by 8.9 percent, or 73, to 892, and sales of jetboats rose 17.7 percent, or 66, to 439.

Nine of the top 10 states for sales reported higher numbers than they did in May last year.

Florida, typically the top sales state, led with 3,647 (up from 3,620), but Michigan passed Texas, which is usually the second-place state, with 3,331 (up from 2,890); Texas was third, at 2,693 (up from 2,455); New York was fourth, at 2,071 (down slightly from 2,074); and North Carolina was fifth, at 1,564 (up from 1,446).

Rounding out the top 10 were Alabama, at 1,405 (up from 1,361); New Jersey, at 1,048 (up from 806); California, at 997 (up from 833); South Carolina, at 887 (up from 751); and Washington, at 761 (up from 732).

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing a complete report in the bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers rose by 26, to 156; sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts rose by six, to 95; and sales of 66-foot and larger custom and semicustom yachts rose by 11, to 20.

The only categories in which sales were lower in May this year were sailboats and 14- to 30-foot inboard and sterndrive boats.

Inboard and sterndrive sales fell 1.7 percent, or 17 boats, to 977, and sales in the category are down by 8.7 percent, at 3,710 boats, for the year in the early-reporting states.

Sailboat sales fell by 79, to 137, and they are lower by 334 boats, or 37.2 percent, for the year through May, at 565 in those states.

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Contour wars – has Kim Kardashian West missed the boat with her new beauty range?

News that Kim Kardashian West is launching a beauty line will shock no one. Last week, the 36-year-old trailed KKWBeauty on Instagram to her 101 million followers. Today, it launches worldwide. The first product is a $48 (£38) contour and highlighting stick that comes in light, medium, dark and deep dark and is packaged in a millennial-pink box.

On first reflection, the branding is pretty cool, coming from somebody who, if we are honest, is pretty uncool. But does West’s launch come a little late? In 2016, she said she was moving on from contouring: “I think right now it’s more about nontouring, like real skin with less makeup on it.” This is a bizarre statement for somebody about to launch a contouring wand. Furthermore, Victoria Buchanan, beauty trends forecaster at the Future Laboratory, thinks contouring is on its way out: “The market for contour kits is now incredibly saturated,” she says. “In a new era defined by ‘fake news’, contouring seems more like a Photoshop technique.”

West’s KKWBeauty line launched worldwide today. Photograph: kkwbeauty

West has successfully positioned herself as the face of Instagram-friendly, mannequin-style makeup, but there has been a definite movement towards natural, non-conformist beauty, led by Alicia Keys and the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards. Likewise, beauty brands such as Glossier (launching soon in the UK) and US brand Milk endorse more “authentic” beauty looks.

This isn’t the reality TV star’s first foray into beauty. West has already collaborated with sister and beauty mogul Kylie Jenner on a KKW x Kylie lip kit of four baby pink shades this year. The Kardashian name has also been used for an averagely successful tanning and haircare line. Last week, however, it was announced that Kendall Jenner’s collaboration with Estée Lauder (called the Estée Edit – which was genuinely very good) is to fold.

West probably doesn’t need to lose any sleep. According to industry sources, 300,000 of the $45 KKW x Kylie lip kits sold out in minutes, generating of $13.5m in sales.

This was the green light that she and her manufacturer, Seed Beauty, needed for the KKW Beauty launch. In her first interview about the line, West told WWD that it was all go: “We have a good model, and even from our lip kit, we have a really good general idea of what our customer is going to be like.”

At any rate, what’s known is that the KKW line (there are concealers launching in two months’ time) does come in shades for the darkest and lightest skins, tones that are often ignored by commercial brands – and that’s a good thing. Although it will undoubtedly sell out, many times over, the proof will be in the quality of the range – and where she goes from here.

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Sales up at Melbourne Boat Show

Exhibitors report good response from visitors with sales off the floor.

While official visitor numbers are not available yet, feedback from exhibitors at this year’s Melbourne Boat Show was generally very positive with a number reporting increased sales and leads from the show.

The four-day show was well-supported by local manufacturers such as Bar Crusher, Whittley, Haines Hunter and Spy as well as a good contingent of overseas boats across the pleasure boating and fishing sectors. Feedback from exhibitors to Marine Business and on Facebook reported a good turn-out of visitors this year who came along prepared to buy.

Scott O’Hare at Aussie Boat Sales, representing Chaparral, Robalo and Polycraft said they had sold boats off the floor at the show and had another 30 or so test drives lined up post-show, mainly for Chaparral and Robalo but also Polycraft.

“The Polycraft products really surprised us,” he said. “They were very well-received.”

O’Hare said he thought visitor numbers were up on the previous year but, more significantly, they were high quality visitors which resulted in more leads than last year.

“From the moment the show opened, I didn’t come up for breath until it closed,” he said.

“Extremely good. By far the best show we’ve done,” said Rohan Veal from 38 South Boat Sales who was presenting the new Jeanneau Cap Camarat 7.7 Walk Around and Glastron power boats.

“A lot of people came to buy this year,” he said. “We took a deposit for the Walk Around on the first day.”

There was also strong interest in the Jeanneau Merry Fisher 605 and the Marlin 795 with a “pile of paperwork” and a number of test drives lined up post-show.

Veal said that while previous appearances at the show had been about establishing the brands, this year attendees had come along prepared to buy. Equally there were buyers who had not bought a boat previously who found exactly what they were looking for on the stand.

“It’s a big investment but well-worth it,” said Veal.

Alan Whittley from Whittley Marine said the show delivered a lot of buyers with more money to spend. Interest from the public was across the entire range of Whittley boats from the Sea Legends to the Cruisers.

“We’re up on unit sales and we’re up on dollar value,” he said.

Whittley added that he expects a strong flow-on from the show in the coming months, especially with the new releases.

“It was definitely a better show than last year,” he commented.

How was the show for you? Leave a comment below or drop us a line about your highlights.

BIAV president, Mark Crockford, presents the award for Best Overall Stand at the 2017 Melbourne Boat Show to Steve Fields from Hobie Cat Australasia.

BIAV stand awards

The Boating Industry Association of Victoria (BIAV) announced the winners of the 2017 boat show stand award winners during the show with Hobie Cat Australia picking up the prize for best overall stand at the show.

  • Best Open Stand – Manufacturers, Wholesalers and Distributors: Hobie Cat Australia
  • Best Shell Stand – Manufacturers, Wholesalers and Distributors: International Paints
  • Best Open Stand – Boat Dealers: Crawford Marine
  • Best Open Stand – Chandleries, Associations, Services: Club Marine
  • Best Shell Stand – Chandleries, Associations, Services: Belouis Investment
  • Best Open Stand – Marinas Clubs: Marina Industries Association
  • Best Stand Overall – Hobie Cat Australia

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Recreational boating picking up on Chain and Fox

Considered one of the busiest recreational waterways in the United States, the 15 lakes of the Chain O’Lakes and the Fox River, which run from Wisconsin to Algonquin, took a hit when the economy tanked, but the past two years have been pointing up, officials say.

“The business is up on our end,” said Steve Moulis, whose grandfather started the Chain O’Lakes Marina at 500 E. Grand Ave. in Fox Lake back in 1952. The business still sells some of the most popular water accessories like towable tubes, and also offers boat valet service, storage and fuel while operating seven days a week.

“Our marina is pretty well full,” he said of the boat slips. “Spring was a little cold, but as soon as it warmed up, we got busy. … We’ve had a nice season so far.”

Over at Fox Lake Harbor, 400 E. Grand, where you can purchase a boat, sales have been good. The business is also owned by Moulis family members, and a representative from the harbor was, appropriately enough, unable to comment when contacted last week because he was with a customer.

Boat sales picking up speed in Nevada – Las Vegas Review

After struggling during the Great Recession, boat sales are surging again in the U.S. and Southern Nevada.

Recently released data from The National Marine Manufacturers Association and its 2016 recreational boating statistical abstract said the $36 billion U.S. boating industry is at a post-recession high.

“The industry has been growing 6 percent each year for the past four, five years,” said Thomas Dammrich, association president. “We’re not completely back to where we were before the recession, but we’re the highest we’ve been at since.”

The resurgence is being felt in Southern Nevada.

Candice Hayes, sales manager at Boating Lake Mead’s Dry Dock Boat Sales in Las Vegas, said the recession was one of the biggest challenges the family business has faced.

“Our 50th anniversary was 2007, and that was kind of the end of everything being great,” she said of the company that launched in 1957. “It was a lot of work … there were a lot of dealers across the country that didn’t make it.”

Lately, though, Hayes has seen a major upswing in boat sales. One of the most popular segments are tow boats, which can pull gear like wakeboards or water skis.

“We’ve been on the upward trend for the past couple years, but this year’s been the biggest jump,” she said. “We’re definitely at a high of where we were over the past 10 years.”

Similar trends can be found all across the country, according to The National Marine Manufacturers Association.

New powerboat unit sales increased 6 percent in 2016, and are expected to continue to increase at this rate throughout 2017 and 2018. New ski and wakeboard boats were up 11.5 percent in 2016, and jet boats increased 8.7 percent. Yacht sales saw a 3.5 percent increase in sales, reaching 1,715 units in 2016.

Dammrich said the industry’s comeback can be attributed to high consumer confidence and low unemployment. While unit sales still need to catch up, dollar sales in the boat industry are back to a pre-recession high.

“All the economic signals are confident,” Dammrich said. “It’s very likely that in 2017 we’ll be back in pre-recession high as far as unit sales.”


Although baby boomers are still the primary buyers of new boats, Dammrich said, younger generations are starting to invest in the market.

“We’re starting to see some increase in (Generation X) and millennials,” Dammrich said. “We expect to see those two segments grow pretty quickly over next decade.”

Dammrich said boat manufacturers are making changes to attract millennial buyers, 83 percent of whom have “a strong propensity toward boating.”

These changes are making boats easier to use, Dammrich said, with features like joystick docking, communication systems and more ways to integrate technology.

“You have manufacturers that are building boats with more outlets and USB ports for electronics,” he said. “Millennials aren’t going to go anywhere without their electronics.”

The fastest-growing boats in popularity, according to the study, are pontoons, saltwater fishing boats and ski and wakeboard boats.

Hayes said she’s seen a shift from cruise boats to sport boats in the past few years at Dry Dock Boat Sales and attributes it to younger generations entering the market.

“The buyers have changed,” she said. “It used to be the parents. Now, the tow boats are driven by high-income millennials or Gen Xers, or they’re pushing their parents to buy it … while our typical buyer (at Dry Dock Boat Sales) is not the millennial, I think they’re definitely an influencer for the family.”

Local trends

Stuart Litjens, owner of the dealership Boulder Boats in Henderson, said he’s seen a similar trend among his customers. Litjens said tow boats and pontoon boats have grown in popularity in recent years, with water sports like wake surfing driving sales.

With boating, Litjens said, the whole family has something to do — whether you’re a parent who wants to pilot and relax or a younger family member who wants to wake surf.

“With boating, you’re all involved, you’re all together,” he said. “In that sense, it’s not uncommon that we have a middle-aged professional family with younger children be brand new to this sport.”

While Nevada boat sales have closely followed national levels in overall growth, the state trails other areas.

Nevada was 44th among the states in sales of new powerboat, engine, trailer and accessories in 2016, according to the NMMA.

Hayes said even though their business sells year round, the city simply doesn’t have a large boating market.

“Las Vegas, obviously there’s a ton of stuff to do here. So boating is not a priority … there’s not a lot of places to boat here,” she said.

Yet many still have an optimistic outlook for the boating industry in Las Vegas. Nathan Yates, director of research at the research and consulting firm Forward View, said in an email that Las Vegas offers a rare large inland boat market with man-made reservoirs, excellent weather and an abundance of affluent buyers. Because of this, the market has potential to grow along with the national boating industry.

“We do believe that the boating industry will grow more quickly than the overall U.S. economy through the end of the decade,” Yates said. “While boat demand is at a post-recession high, sales remain below the likely cyclical peak … both the RV and marine industries are seeing strength.”

Hayes expects the growing trend in boat sales to continue.

“If you look at boat sales trends over the past 30 years, absolutely … I would definitely see that we have a nice upward trend for a few years,” she said. “There’s a lot of ground to make up.”

Contact Bailey Schulz at or 702-383-0256. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

By the numbers

Statistics show boat sales have increased rapidly in Nevda.

Boat manufacturers saw a 64 percent growth between April 2016 and April 2017 for runabouts, jet boats and deck boats, according to registration data in the Las Vegas area.

A survey said the Las Vegas tow boat market saw a 24 percent growth between 12 month-rolling periods ending in January 2016 and January 2017.

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Week in review

Week in review

June 16, 2017



Momentous day for GE

On the day that Jeffrey Immelt said he would step down as chairman and CEO of General Electric, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared the way for the $23 billion merger between GE’s oil and gas division and Houston’s Baker Hughes to create the world’s second largest energy services company.

Aldi in expansion mode

Discount grocer Aldi said it would invest $3.4 billion to expand its U.S. presence by 900 stores in the next five years, as the German chain looks to expand beyond its traditional U.S. territory in the Midwest.

Oil reserves decline


The oil industry has fallen behind on finding new crude reserves and will invest more heavily in renewable energy in coming years, separate reports said. Last year, 68 publicly traded oil companies that produce a quarter of the world’s crude have depleted a collective 8.2 billion barrels in proved reserves.

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Jaguar, Lyft team up

Jaguar Land Rover announced that it was investing $25 million into Lyft to help the ride-hailing business expand and develop technologies. As part of the investment, Jaguar Land Rover agreed to supply a fleet of its vehicles.


Record home sales for area

Houston-area homebuyers bought a record number of houses in May and drove the region’s median sales price to unprecedented levels as sales surged 11.5 percent from the same period a year earlier, the Houston Association of Realtors reported. That’s despite employment not being fully recovered from the extended oil price slump.

Drone unit gets off ground

General Electric announced that it had launched a subsidiary to develop and sell the use of flying, crawling and swimming drones for inspections in the oil and gas industry, among others. The startup, Boston-based Avitas Systems, is already working with customers to test the drones on pipelines, gas flares and holding tanks.

Boat dealers are cruising

The Houston Summer Boat Show opened amid a wave of strong 2017 sales in Houston and across the country. The number of new boats sold is expected to rise 6 to 7 percent this year nationally, according to a boat show official, and the dollar value of new boat sales is expected to increase 10 to 11 percent.

A ‘good’ shutdown

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he agreed with President Donald Trump that there could be such a thing as a “good” government shutdown. He did tell the Senate Budget Committee, however, that it’s not the administration’s “primary objective.”

Verizon absorbs Yahoo

Verizon took over Yahoo, completing a $4.5 billion deal that ushered in a new management team to attempt to wring more advertising revenue from one of the internet’s best-known brands. The closure of the sale ends Yahoo’s 21-year history as a publicly traded company and closes out the nearly five-year reign of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who isn’t joining Verizon. She will walk away from Yahoo with a compensation package worth about $125 million.


‘Fair and balanced’ gone

In the latest sign of change at Fox News, the “Fair and Balanced” motto that has long been a rallying cry for Fox News fans – and a finger in the eye of critics – is gone. The channel confirmed that slogan and network have parted ways.


Fighting for NAFTA

Texas’ largest business associations joined forces to make sure that proposed changes to U.S. trading relations with Mexico and Canada don’t hurt what has become a critical part of the state’s economy. The Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition aims to “ensure that the administration and our leaders in Congress understand the importance and positive impact of NAFTA on our economy,” according to the group’s new website.

All clear for Dow, DuPont

Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. won U.S. antitrust approval for their $73 billion merger, overcoming one of the last remaining hurdles to a deal that would create a global chemicals giant.

Surprise pipeline ruling

A judge’s ruling that might open the door for at least a temporary shutdown of the disputed Dakota Access pipeline surprised the industry that hailed the project as a “game changer” for North Dakota oil.


Takata bankruptcy ahead?

Troubled Japanese air bag maker Takata was moving to file for bankruptcy protection within days in preparation for the company to sell itself to a rival, a person briefed on the matter said.

From staff and wire reports


The Commerce Department releases the current account trade deficit for the first quarter.

FedEx Corp. reports its quarterly financial results after the market closes.


The National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales for May.


The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims.

Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.


The Commerce Department releases new-home sales for May.

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Boat sales booming

Michigan boasts 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes, and 36,350 miles of rivers and streams.

As Michigan Boating Week (June 10-16) winds down, the number of boats on the water cranks up, although activity seems to be on par with recent years for this time of year, according to Mike Sheahan, operations officer for Coast Guard Station Grand Haven.

“Boating traffic is slowly picking up, but it’s weather dependent,” he said.

The marinas have most of their boats in the water, and the long-range forecast shows highs reaching into the upper 80s and lower 90s for the Fourth of July weekend.


“If the wind dies down, we’ll be busy,” Sheahan said.

Pontoons, center consoles are the latest rage

Adding to the busy waterways will be a lot of new pontoon and console boats, said Skipper Bud’s General Manager Rick Williams. 

Williams said their pontoon sales are up 85 percent over last year. Boat sales overall are up by about 50 percent.

But more and more people who want a Lake Michigan-friendly craft are going to the center fiberglass console boats, Williams said. This allows the dad to go fishing, but also has plenty of room and power for the family members who want to do water sports. It also has higher sides, so it’s safer for small children.

Williams said Skipper Bud’s will be showing off one of the larger versions of that boat during the Grand Haven Yacht Days, a public event scheduled for June 23-25 at the Grand Haven showroom and at Grand Isle Marina.

“We’ll have several large boats in the water,” he said.

One of those will be a 42-foot center console Scout with a 1,400-horsepower outboard motor valued at $1 million. It takes 9-10 months to get it built and delivered.

“This is definitely a little bit of a showboat,” Williams said.

To cover the cost spectrum, the Grand Haven store sells everything from inflatable boats to 100-foot yachts. 

Farther inland, employees at Camp Cruise, 1613 Hayes St. in Marne, have already gone past the majority of boat sales and are knee deep in accessories and service work, according to office manager Chris Smith. They sell mostly fishing boats and pontoons used on the inland lakes and rivers.

The trend is toward a larger pontoon with a larger engine, Smith said. This allows more all-around use, including pulling a skier.

A new pontoon line that is gaining popularity is the Thunder Jet with its heavy-gauge aluminum pontoons. Smith said these boats would take more of the wave action on the bigger lakes. 

A boating hotspot

The Secretary of State website shows more than 790,000 boats registered in Michigan, with 26,158 of those being in Ottawa County. There’s also more than 300,000 non-registered canoes, kayaks and paddleboards, DNR officials said.

With so many people and vessels on the water, it’s important to make sure you have the right safety gear on board, Sheahan said.

“We want to stress — wear life jackets, especially if you are doing paddle sports,” he said. “Don’t put yourself in a precarious position.”

Download the U.S. Coast Guard application on your smartphone for information, filing float plans, rules of the road, buoys, requesting a safety check and an emergency assistance button. More information is also available at

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Wakesurf boats among the offerings at Houston Summer Boat Show

Wake surfing has become one of the hottest activities on the water, and specially designed boats are a hit.

Media: Houston Boat Show

Catch a wave … behind a boat?

Wakesurf boats, which allow you to surf on a wave created behind the boat, are among the various vessels that will be showcased at the Houston Summer Boat Show, continuing through Sunday at NRG Center.

“Wakesurfing” begins with someone holding a rope and using the boat’s momentum to pull their body upright. Then he or she drops the rope and surfs on the wave created behind the boat. Boards are made specifically for this activity.

RELATED: Boat sales up as summer show hits town



Jonathan Whitmire, general manager of the Conroe location of Texas Marine, is showcasing wakesurf boats at the Houston Summer Boat Show. He said these boats have large ballast tanks that fill with water to make the boat ride lower. This can create wakes as high as four or five feet directly behind the boat.

Once the boat is low, special add-ons are used to shape the wake. Wakesurfing requires a nice curl and wakes that don’t have very much white water. These wakes are created at a slow speed, meaning it hurts less when people fall. 

(Story continues below … )

When finished wakesurfing, empty the ballasts and the boat can be used for tubing, skiing and normal wakeboarding. 

INLAND WAVES: Largest surf park in the world opens in Texas for 2017 season

And despite videos showcasing professionals, Whitmire said wakesurfing is easy. 

“It’s something that’s fun and exciting for the whole family,” he said. “You don’t have to be a professional to do it.”

Tickets for the Houston Summer Boat Show are $12 for adults and $5 for kids between 6 and 12. Kids under 5 years old are free. Parking is an additional $12. Only cash will be accepted for both the tickets and parking.

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Boat sales up 2 percent in first quarter

Posted on June 14th, 2017 Written by Jack Atzinger

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Recreational boat sales rose 2 percent in the first quarter, slower growth by comparison with the double-digit gains the industry posted a year earlier.

Sales in the main powerboat segments and industrywide rose by an identical 2.4 percent, to 31,881 and 44,019 boats respectively, from the 2016 quarter in 48 states that represent 97 percent of the U.S. boat market, Statistical Surveys reported today.

A year earlier, main-segments sales rose 10.7 percent to 29,362 and industrywide sales climbed 10.4 percent to 40,783, also with 48 states reporting.

“It’s still growth on top of growth,” Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe said today of the quarterly results. ”You’re still seeing moderate growth in the industry.”

Kloppe said sales in Northern and Midwestern states were slow to ramp up during the early months this year. Forecasts are for full-year sales growth of 4 to 6 percent and Kloppe said he believes sales in the second quarter and the top-selling months — April through July — will improve and move the industry closer to expectations.

“I think you’ll see in the prime selling months a little bit of an uptick in the year-over-year results,” he said.

April sales in 23 early-reporting states indicate that the industry began the second quarter this year at a stronger pace. Sales were up 3.5 percent in the main segments and 5 percent industrywide.

Figures for May are due out next week.

Pontoon sales were up 11 percent in April, jetboat sales were up 13.7 percent, ski and wake boat sales were up 8.8 percent and personal watercraft sales were up 12.9 percent. Kloppe said PWC sales are growing at a pace that would lift the category above 60,000 units this year.

In the first quarter this year the three high-volume categories in the main segments — aluminum fishing and pontoon boats and 11- to 50-foot fiberglass outboard boats — saw sales rise by small to moderate amounts.

The fiberglass outboard category performed the best. Sales rose 6.3 percent, or 643, to 10,894 boats. Aluminum fishing boat sales rose 2.7 percent, or 278, to 10,762, and sales of aluminum pontoon boats rose 0.9 percent, or 59, to 6,772.

Sales of ski and wake boats were nearly flat, falling by five to 1,290, and jetboat sales climbed 6.5 percent, or 49, to 807.

Personal watercraft had the top percentage gain among the industry’s high-volume categories. Sales rose 9.4 percent for the quarter, or 546, to 6,329.

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing a complete quarterly report in the bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers fell by 11 to 256; sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts dropped by 32 to 193; and sales of 66-foot and larger custom and semicustom yachts rose by seven to 35.

Sailboat sales fell by 168, or 34.7 percent, for the quarter, to 316.

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Boat sales up as summer show hits town

Boat sales up as summer show hits town

June 13, 2017
Updated: June 13, 2017 10:26pm




The Houston Summer Boat Show opens Wednesday amid a wave of strong 2017 sales in Houston and across the country.

“People feel good today and feel good about the future,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “And so they’re willing to spend.”

The number of new boats sold is expected to rise 6 to 7 percent this year nationally, Dammrich said. The dollar value of new boat sales is expected to increase 10 to 11 percent.

Dealers hope consumers bring that willingness to spend this week to NRG Center. The Houston Summer Boat Show will showcase a variety of boats, fishing gear, boating electronics and other merchandise Wednesday through Sunday.


This summer’s event has more dealers than last year, and it will take up three halls at NRG Center, show president Ken Lovell said. The larger Houston International Boat, Sport Travel Show in January uses five halls.

“We’re expecting a really great show,” Lovell said. “Our exhibit space sales are up a good 25 percent from last year.”

More Information

If you go

What: Houston Summer Boat Show

When: Wednesday through Sunday

Where: NRG Center

Cost (cash only): $12 for adults, $5 for kids 6-12, free for 5 and younger.

Parking: $12

More information:

Among the dealers is Texas Marine’s Conroe store, which has been “busier than usual” in recent weeks, general manager Jonathan Whitmire said.

Whitmire said the store usually slows down right before the show, but that hasn’t been the case this year, partly because Texas Marine offered show pricing ahead of the event.

This uptick in business, coupled with consumers feeling more confident and the election being over with, makes Whitmire believe that Texas Marine will benefit from this week’s event.

“I think it’s probably going to be a really good show,” he said.

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In 2016, new powerboat, outboard engine, trailer and aftermarket accessory expenditures totaled $1.4 billion in Texas. That was a 5 percent increase compared with 2015, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Nationwide, new boat sales have been growing since late 2011. The industry was hit hard by the recession, Dammrich said, seeing a 40 to 50 percent drop in new boat sales and a roughly 80 percent drop in new boats built.

“We’ve been recovering slowly, but there’s a sense now that the growth is beginning to accelerate,” Dammrich said.

Helping new boat sales is the lack of pre-owned boats that are 5 or 6 years old. Since so few were made around the recession, shoppers are being forced to buy older models or brand new boats.

Fun gadgets are also helping drive new boat sales. Joy sticks can be used to dock boats, seats can be rearranged with the push of a button and electronics make navigation easier than ever before.

“They have features that aren’t available on boats in the pre-owned market,” Dammrich said.

In addition to new technology, boats are looking sharper as their hulls get new multicolored, 3-dimensional-looking graphics, said Dave Foulkrod, chief operating officer for Kemah-based The Yacht Sales Co.

Foulkrod also predicted a strong show. His company saw sales increase about 5 percent in 2016 compared with 2015.

“We have seen year-over-year growth for the last couple years here in the marketplace,” he said.

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