As boaters prepare to kick off the 2017 season with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association (NMMA) reports that the boating industry is seeing some of its highest sales in nearly a decade.

According to new data from the national trade organization, sales of new powerboats in the US increased by 6% in 2016, reaching 247,800 boats sold, and are expected to increase an additional 6% in 2017 – a trajectory NMMA anticipates to continue through 2018.

Outboard boat sales, which represent 85% of new traditional powerboats sold and include pontoons, aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, as well as small fiberglass cruising boats, were up 6.1% in 2016 to 160,900 units.

Sales of new ski and wakeboard boats, used for watersports such as wakesurfing and wakeboarding, saw a double-digit increase, up 11.5% to 8,700 boats. New personal watercraft sales, often considered a gateway to boat ownership, rose 7.3% to 59,000 craft, and jet boats, smaller fiberglass boats that use jet engine technology to propel the boat, saw a sales increase of 8.7% to 5,000 boats.

Sales of yachts 33 feet and longer saw gains of 3.5%, reaching a seven-year high of 1,715 units in 2016.

Highlights from the NMMA’s 2016 Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract include:

  • Annual US sales of boats, marine products and services totalled $36 billion in 2016, an increase of 3.2% from 2015.
  • There were approximately 247,800 new power boats sold in 2016, and increase of 6.0% from 2015.
  • The recreational boating industry in the US has an annual economic impact of more than $121.5 billion.

In addition, the report outlines the top US states for boat sales increases, including:

  • Florida: $2.5 billion, up 5% from 2015
  • Texas: $1.4 billion, up 5% from 2015
  • Michigan: $868 million, up 9% from 2015
  • Minnesota: $710 million, up 9% from 2015
  • North Carolina: $689 million, up 11% from 2015
  • New York: $688 million, up 14% from 2015
  • Wisconsin: $622 million, up 9% from 2015
  • California: $615 million, up 15% from 2015
  • Georgia: $551 million, up 11% from 2015
  • South Carolina: $544 million, up 10% from 2015


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