The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) says that sales of new powerboats were up 6% in 2017, equalling about 260,000 new powerboats sold last year. The US trade association expects 2018 to see another 5% to 6% increase in new-boat sales.

“The close of 2017 marked our sixth consecutive year of growth in new boat sales and recreational boating expenditures,” says Thom Dammrich, NMMA president, in a statement. “If economic indicators remain favourable to the recreational boating market with strong consumer confidence, a healthy housing market, rising disposable income and consumer spending, and historically low interest rates, the outlook is good for boat sales.”

The 2017 sales increases included ski and wake boats (up 7%), pontoon boats (up 7-8%), personal watercraft (up 5-6%), saltwater fishing boats (up 4%) and freshwater fishing boats (up 2%). Cruisers between 22ft-32ft were up an estimated 9% to 10% in 2017.

Boat clubs, rentals and fractional use companies have continued to grow in popularity. “Boating experiences provide a gateway to ownership and companies like Boatsetter, Freedom Boat Club, SailTime and Carefree Boat Club help beginners find ways to go boating,” Dammrich said.

The NMMA said annual US consumer spending on boats, marine products and services was up 3% in 2017 to US$37bn. The boating industry supports 650,000 direct and indirect American jobs and nearly 35,000 small businesses. An estimated 11.9 million boats were registered in the US in 2016.