Sales of boats and travel trailers are at some of the highest levels in years as consumers feel better about making discretionary purchases.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) said it expects recreational boat sales were up as much as 7% this year compared with 2013. Furthermore, 2014 retail expenditures — which include spending on boats, engines, marine accessories and services — could eclipse 2007, one of the healthiest years for the industry.
Some of the strongest sales were in ski-and-wakeboard, pontoon, and aluminum fishing boats. Sales of larger boats also started to see an uptick, according to the trade association.
“An improved economy, an improved housing market, a stronger job market, increasing consumer confidence and a multiyear low on fuel prices has bolstered people’s financial outlook, which bodes well for new boat sales,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the Chicago-based association.
This fall, wholesale shipments of travel trailers were at some of the highest levels in decades, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), based in Reston, Va.
RV industry shipments are expected to total 361,400 units in 2015, up 4% from 2014. The 2015 figure would be more than double the industry’s recent low point in 2009.
“We’ve had a good year in 2014. Our October numbers were up 30% from September and were the best October total we’ve posted in 38 years,” said RVIA President Richard Coon.
Sales of travel trailers and motorhomes are big business in Wisconsin, with people coming from the Chicago area to buy rigs costing tens of thousands of dollars.
“We had our best year ever,” said Paul Beitzel, sales manager at Ewald’s Airstream of Wisconsin, an Airstream dealership in Franklin.
New Airstream trailers cost $42,000 to $140,000. The Ohio-based trailer manufacturer has benefited from Baby Boomers not wanting to wait much longer to buy one of the luxury units that sometimes serves as their second home.
“The Baby Boomers are retiring and want a lifestyle change,” Beitzel said.
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