Boating Industry

July 2016

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July 2016 | Boating Industry | 29 /// Market Trends /// F or years, recreational fi shing has ranked as the single most popular activity that people enjoy from a boat. According to the National Marine Manufacturers As- sociation and the Recreational Boating and Fish- ing Foundation, that remains true today. In its Special Report on Fishing published last year, the RBFF notes that no fewer than 46 mil- lion Americans participated in recreational fi sh- ing during the 2014 calendar year, representing 15.8 percent of the U.S. population aged 6 and older. Freshwater fi shing draws more than three times the number of participants as saltwater fi shing, representing a total of nearly 38 million people. Little wonder that the freshwater fi shing segment remains among the most durable mar- kets in the U.S. boating industry. Recent data from Statistical Surveys confi rms that the freshwater fi shing market continues to exhibit modest growth in the mid-single digit range each year. According to SSI, in 2013 deal- ers sold a total of 53,371 outboard-powered alu- minum fi shing boats in the United States. That fi gure grew to 56,788 boats in 2014, representing growth of 6.4 percent. For calendar year 2015, U.S. dealers sold 59,085 freshwater fi shing boats, a further 4.0 percent jump. Sales of fi berglass freshwater fi shing boats were lower in terms of overall unit volumes but follow a similar trend, growing from 7,577 boats in 2013 to 8,031 boats in 2014 for a 5.9 percent gain. For 2015, dealers sold 8,561 fi ber- glass freshwater fi shing boats, representing a 6.5 percent gain. What is particularly interesting is that these increases signifi cantly outpace growth in the U.S. population overall. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population grew from 317.5 mil- lion in 2013 to 320 million in 2014, an increase of just 0.7 percent. The national population grew to 322.5 million in 2015 for a similar 0.7 percent gain. The conclusion that sales of freshwater fi shing boats are outpacing overall population growth is consistent with RBFF data that shows steadily increased interest in freshwater fi shing. Where it really gets interesting is when you consider SSI's annual sales fi gures from a geo- graphical perspective. Traditionally, aluminum boats have sold best in the northern U.S. and Canada, while fi berglass has historically reigned supreme in the south. But that no longer appears to be necessarily true. In 2015, for example, deal- ers in the Dallas–Fort Worth area enjoyed the third strongest sales volumes of aluminum fi sh- ing boats in the country, outpacing northern markets like Chicago and Detroit. At the same time, dealers sold more fi berglass fi shing boats in Minneapolis than they did in strong southern markets like Nashville, Dallas and Houston. The key takeaway is clear – where freshwater fi shing boats are concerned, anything goes. The bass market While the overall freshwater fi shing market has enjoyed steady, modest growth, one particularly bright spot has been in the bass boat segment. Sales of bass boats grew by a whopping 29.9 percent in the 12-month rolling period ending February 2016, according to SSI. "In the overall market we are seeing good sales of the lower-priced product, where buyers are more cost-sensitive and are able to take ad- vantage of attractive fi nancing terms," said Bass Cat and Yar-Craft Boats President Rick Pierce. "But we're also seeing good sales in the top end BY CRAIG RITCHIE MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL, MN 13.88% CHICAGO, IL 6.94% HOUSTON, TX 0.36% NEW ORLEANS, LA 0.46% BATON ROUGE, LA 3.37% DALLAS-FORT WORTH, TX 10.14% LITTLE ROCK, AR 8.28% ST. LOUIS, MO 5.46% DETROIT, MI 0.77% SEATTLE-TACOMA, WA 19.4% TOP MARKETS FOR FRESHWATER FISHING BOATS 2015 TOTAL GROWTH 4.04% The newly redesigned 2095 BTX won a 2016 Boating Industry Top Products Award. Source: SSI

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