You may be settling in for 6 more weeks of winter, but the boating industry is already gearing up for the season ahead when we all take to the water. Even as you read this, the first wave of winter boat shows is getting ready to launch.

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the boating industry has got some fantastic new products to show you this year, buoyed by very strong sales in 2017. It was the 6th consecutive year of growth for the industry. Here are some highlights.

What’s Ahead

Sales statistics show that we bought about 260,000 new powerboats in 2017—a 6% increase over the previous year. Many of those sales were to first-time buyers, and they also are tending to be younger. The NMMA predicts that the outlook for growth in the industry will continue, as long as the economy and low interest rates prevail.

The boating industry is creating both new products and new programs to attract the younger and first-time buyers, such as:

  • Cruisers – These beauties made of high-tech materials tend to be between 22 and 32 feet in length. The mid-sized powerboats have been selling well, and manufacturers believe it’s possible that sales will grow by 10%
  • Family fun boats – First-time and younger boaters are looking for group activities, and manufacturers are coming up with a wider range of versatile watercraft such as ski and wake boats, and pontoons to make this experience more accessible.
  • Fishing boats – These types of watercraft are the major driver of sales for boat manufacturers. Sales are already robust, and this year looks to add a 2% increase for freshwater boats, as well as a 4% increase for saltwater fishing boats.
  • Boating experiences – Manufacturers know they’re not just selling a boat. They’re pushing an experience. To that end, the industry is seeing major growth in companies offering boating-related services such as clubs, rentals, and even fractional use organizations. It’s all good for manufacturers, as these experiences provide a gateway to ownership.

By the Numbers

Boating makes a big splash on our nation’s economy. Here are some statistics to put it into perspective for you.

  • There are an estimated 12 million registered boats throughout the company.
  • We spent over $36 billion on marine products and services in 2016. By the time the final numbers are tallied, it’s expected that this number will have risen to $37 billion in 2017.
  • We’re not just buying new boats, either. In 2016, almost 982,000 pre-owned boats were sold, totaling over $9 billion in sales. That number is not expected to decrease any time soon.
  • The industry itself supports almost 35,000 small businesses and is responsible for about 650,000 jobs.
  • We can be proud of this statistic: over 95% of the boats sold in the United States are made here.

We’re always happy to hear about the success of American-made products. While it can’t be said for all metal building kits, Miracle Truss® products are all 100% made in the United States. Learn more about our unique American story here, and read more about new trends in the boating industry in Part 2.

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