More Americans took to the water in new boats this summer, often buying smaller, less expensive models, as the industry is showing signs of a recovery
Purchases of powerboats — which include yachts, pontoons and fishing vessels — rose 18.9 percent in July from a year earlier, according to figures from Statistical Surveys Inc., a research company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Even with mild summer weather and a cold winter, year-to-date sales are up 3.1 percent, the data show.
The industry “is performing pretty well again” after bottoming in 2010, with smaller boats — those under 30 feet in length — showing particular strength, said Tom Walworth, the company’s president. This category has rebounded about 13 percent since 2010, outpacing the 9.3 percent growth rate for larger craft, a sign there’s been a lasting shift in consumer preferences since the 18-month recession ended in June 2009, he said.
By Anna-Louise Jackson & Anthony Feld