Total boat registrations in the US grew by 0.7% in 2017, representing just under 12 million boats, according to the latest statistical abstract compiled by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
Regionally, the Great Lakes states saw the largest increase of 27% followed by the Inland region and South Atlantic region, both just over 18%.
The registration numbers follow sales data released in the spring showing powerboat sales in the US hit a 10-year high, while total marine expenditures – new boats, engines, trailer accessories and service – reached an all-time high of $39bn last year.
US boat sales through the first six months of 2018 are also up on a month-to-month basis, and NMMA president Thom Dammrich told IBI in a recent interview, “It’s the economy.”
“All of the economic factors that impact boat sales are positive; consumer confidence is extremely strong,” Dammrich said. “When the GDP is growing at 3%, unemployment is at 3.9%, the housing market has healed, disposable income is increasing, consumer spending is increase… all of those things have been contributing to increased sales.”
The state of Florida led in boat registration increases between 2016 and 2017 at 1.4%, followed by Minnesota, Michigan, California and Wisconsin.
Dammrich cautions, however, tariffs and counter-tariffs imposed on boatbuilding materials and components could slow that growth.
“All of these cost increases on components used in boatbuilding will make boats more expensive and when boats are more expensive, people are going to buy fewer of them,” he said.