NMMA Issues 2018 Highlights for Boat Sales and the Recreational Boating Economy

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced that retail unit sales of new powerboats were up an estimated 4 percent in 2018 to approximately 280,000 units, the highest total since 2007. Continued growth with a 3 to 4 percent increase in new powerboat retail sales is expected in 2019. NMMA also announced 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. Sales of new freshwater fishing boats are estimated to be up 2 to 4 percent to 75,000 units in 2018; new personal watercraft sales are estimated to be up 6 to 8 percent to 68,000 units in 2018; new pontoon sales are estimated to be up 4 to 6 percent to 58,000 units in 2018; sales of new wakesport boats are estimated to be up 9 to11 percent to 10,000 units in 2018; and new cruiser sales are estimated to be up 2-4 percent to 9,000 units in 2018.

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

Key statistics that provide insights on the industry’s size, make-up and demographics include:

  • Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services are estimated to total $41 billion in 2018, an increase of 5 percent from 2017.
  • Ninety-five percent of the boats sold in the U.S are made in the U.S.
  • There were an estimated 998,000 pre-owned boats (powerboats, personal watercraft, and sailboats) sold in 2018, the highest pre-owned boat unit sales since 2006, totaling an estimated $9.7 billion in sales, an increase of 2 percent from 2017.
  • There were an estimated 12 million registered/documented boats in the U.S. in 2018 with ninety-five percent measuring less than 26 feet.
  • Sixty-two percent of boat owners have a household income less than $100,000.