A side-by-side comparison of 2006’s retail unit sales for new boats with the most recent numbers is confusing, especially when most industry analysts sound ecstatic about the current market. Almost everyone in the US industry, except the sailboat and sterndrive segments, see 2015 as the definitive recovery year, with expectations for sales in the high-single digits.
But the numbers are less than impressive. Aluminium fishing outboards, long touted as one of the comeback categories, stood at about 40% of 2005 unit sales in 2014. Fibreglass outboard deckboats reached about 55% of their 2005 numbers, and ski- and wakeboard boats stood at 56%.
The pontoon segment reached 92% of its pre- recession levels, making it the poster child of the recovery. The other strong performer, fibreglass outboards, made it to 67% last year. But categories with impressive pre-recession numbers are abysmal: Sterndrives are only 24% of 2005 levels, while fibreglass inboard boats are just 29%.
But there is a new normal, according to the leading analysts in the industry, one predicated on very different boat- buying patterns. “The industry is quite healthy in the segments that are doing well,” says Dustan McCoy, chairman and Ceo of Brunswick Corp. “in fact, we’re seeing a full-blown recovery. The big difference is that the consumer is making very different choices today than before the downturn.”
Note: This is an excerpt of the latest report on the US market report published in the June/July 2015 edition of IBI magazine. IBI Plus subscribers can download the report in full from IBI Plus website.