CHICAGO—The tide is turning for the sluggish U.S. recreational boating industry as sales of new power boat grew an estimated 10 per cent in 2012, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
Early projections indicate the industry will see another 5 per cent to 10 per cent growth in 2013 if consumer confidence and the housing market continue to recover.
The NMMA says outdoor recreation generates $646 billion in direct consumer spending annually.
The recreational boat building industry in Canada was worth $842.1 million in 2008, the last year statistics are available from Industry Canada. The Canadian arm of the NMMA says the recreational boating sector has a $15.6-billion economic impact on the Canadian economy and $322 million in exports.
“A 10 per cent boost at retail in 2012 is significant as this is the first time since the recession we saw healthy growth across the powerboat market, which will create momentum in 2013,” notes Thom Dammrich, president of NMMA.
Innovative, versatile and accessible boats that appeal to a variety of interests and budgets and fall within the 15-26 foot range are driving the recovery. It’s these smaller boats—those less than 27 feet—which make up 96 per cent of the 12.4 million registered boats in the U.S. Boats that fall into this category include aluminum all-purpose boats and pontoons, fiberglass bowriders, fish and ski boats, and jet boats.
“One of the most significant trends we’re seeing in boat manufacturing is the versatile boat—one that can pull tubers or wakeboarders, can be used for fishing outings, relaxing with family or entertaining friends,” said Dammrich. “After a decade of decline, Americans are participating in outdoor recreation in growing numbers, and as they look for ways to spend time outdoors, boat manufacturers are taking cue, producing innovative boats that offer an all-encompassing entry to the boating lifestyle at a variety of price points.”