Editor’s Note: The following is a report by R.W. Baird & Co. analyzing powerboat sales during March.

Boat sales flat in March. U.S. powerboat retail was exactly flat in March, according to Statistical Surveys Inc. March typically represents 9% of annual sales, becoming more important each month through the June/July peak. For the quarter, powerboat retail fell 1% as weather took its toll. Brunswick already reported preliminary Q1 results, which fell short of expectations. Still, March trends improved relative to February, consistent with our recent dealer checks, supporting our view that underlying trends are better.

U.S. powerboat retail flat in March. U.S. powerboat retail was exactly flat in March. Growth in outboard, aluminum fish, and custom yacht categories (small unit base) was offset by declines in pontoon and most fiberglass categories. Not surprisingly, the late spring continues to weigh on demand, although we are encouraged by the sequential improvement from February to March, which is consistent with our dealer checks.

Mixed retail demand. Relative strength in outboard (+5%) and aluminum (+1%) was offset by a decline in pontoon (-4%) and smaller fiberglass categories. Encouragingly, the largest fiberglass sterndrive category posted a gain, though we note that the total volume in the custom yacht category was only 16 units during March – so the growth is off a small base. Weather aside, we think a growing wealth effect will trigger the release of pent-up boat demand.