Byline: Log News Service
CHICAGO (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) reported retail sales for recreational boats and participation in recreational boating were up in 2011, suggesting the beginning of a recovery for the U.S. recreational boating industry.
In the latest edition of its annual Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract released May 16, the NMMA reported that retail sales for recreational boats, accessories and marine services increased 6 percent over the past year to $32.3 billion — the first increase since 2006.
New powerboat and sailboat retail sales increased 0.8 percent — and 83 million Americans participated in boating last year, an increase of 10 percent over 2010. That’s the largest proportion of adults (34.8 percent) who went boating since 1997, when 35.8 percent participated.
Leading a recovery, NMMA said, were sales of aluminum powerboats (primarily fishing and pontoon boats), which were up 4 percent in 2011.
“Pent-up demand for boats following years of diminished willingness to spend by consumers, improved credit availability for buyers and boating businesses, positive shifts in consumer confidence and an overall interest in the benefits of the boating lifestyle are steering the industry toward recovery, said NMMA president Thom Dammrich. “Americans’ passion for enjoying the boating lifestyle is taking precedence as they put aside concerns about the economy in favor of creating lifelong memories with loved ones.”
Data from the NMMA Abstract shows that the recreational boating industry continues to be predominately focused on small boats. That includes the aluminum power boat segment, which accounts for 95 percent of the 12.4 million registered boats in the United States in 2011 that were 26 feet or less in size.
The size of the boats Americans purchase is relative to boater income, NMMA said, with 83 percent of all boat owners in the United States in 2011 having an annual household income of less that $100,000.
NMMA said that boating has an estimated annual economic impact of $72 billion.
Anticipating what 2012 will bring, the NMMA Abstract points toward continued slow growth.
A survey, in conjunction with Foresight Research, of 3,100 boaters and non-boaters from December 2011 shows an estimated 15.2 percent of the 237.7 million adults living in the United States are actively engaged in shopping for, or planning to purchase, a boat in 2012. This is an increase from 10 percent in 2010, NMMA said.
The NMMA, a trade organization that represents the recreational boating industry in North America, said that its member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the United States and Canada.