Retail unit sales of new powerboats (includes traditional powerboats and personal watercraft) were up an estimated 4 percent in 2018 to approximately 280,000 units, the highest total since 2007, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). The outlook for 2019 remains positive with continued growth expected to bring a 3-4 percent increase in new powerboat retail sales. NMMA reports that the recreational boating industry contributes an estimated $170.3 billion in economic activity to the U.S. economy, an increase of approximately $49 billion since the last time the association reported economic impact in 2012.
As retail unit sales figures are finalized for 2018, they’re signaling nearly all new powerboat categories saw growth last year, with the following categories leading the charge:
• Sales of new freshwater fishing boats are estimated to be up 2-4 percent to 75,000 units in 2018; fishing is the most popular activity done aboard a boat.
• New personal watercraft sales are estimated to be up 6-8 percent to 68,000 units in 2018; with accessible entry-level price points, personal watercraft are often considered a gateway to boat ownership.
• New pontoon sales are estimated to be up 4-6 percent to 58,000 units in 2018; the versatility of the latest pontoons offers an all-in-one experience from fishing to cruising to watersports.
• Sales of new wakesport boats—popular for wakesurfing and wakeboarding and attractive to new and younger boaters—are estimated to be up 9-11 percent to 10,000 units in 2018.
• New cruiser sales—boats between 22 and 32 feet, popular for relaxing, entertaining and “cruising”—are estimated to be up 2-4 percent to 9,000 units in 2018.
NMMA reports that the recreational boating industry supports an estimated 35,000 marine businesses and 691,000 direct and indirect U.S. jobs.
The top ten states for recreational boating economic activity are:
1. Florida, $23.3 Billion
2. California, $13 Billion
3. New York, $8.4 Billion
4. Texas, $7.7 Billion
5. Michigan, $7.4 Billion
6. Washington, $6.9 Billion
7. New Jersey, $6.6 Billion
8. Tennessee, $6 Billion
9. North Carolina, $5.5 Billion
10. Missouri, $4.5 Billion