The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), representing the nation’s recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, announced it expects unit sales of new powerboats to increase between 6% and 7% in 2016, reaching an estimated 250,000 boats sold this year as consumer confidence soars and manufacturers introduce products attracting younger boaters.

NMMA reported in a press release that in addition to unit sales of new boats, recreational boating industry dollar sales are expected to rise between 10-11% from $8.4 billion.

In fact, as one of the few original American-made industries – 95% of boats sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S. – recreational boating is seeing some of its healthiest gains in nearly a decade, a trajectory the NMMA expects to continue through 2018.

“With the U.S. boating industry having one of its strongest years in the last decade, and manufacturers saying, ‘we’re back!’, it’s likely we will reflect on this period as a golden age for our economy and our industry,” noted Thom Dammrich, NMMA president. “Economic indicators are working in the industry’s favor — a continuously improving housing market, strong consumer confidence, growing disposable income and consumer spending, and low interest rates all contribute to a healthy recreational boating market. Looking ahead, 2017 is likely to bring new dollar and unit sales gains on par with or better than 2016, and this trend will likely continue through 2018.”

Heading into 2017, U.S. manufacturers are gearing up for a busy winter boat show season to further attract the growing number of boating enthusiasts. Boat shows provide a platform for the boating industry to unveil its latest innovations around the country, and generate as much as 50% of annual sales for some manufacturers and dealers.

U.S. Recreational Boating by the Numbers

  • Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services totaled $36 billion in 2015 and are expected to climb three percent in 2016 to $37 billion.
  • Annual U.S. retail sales of NEW boats, marine engines and marine accessories totaled $17.4 billion in 2015 and are expected to grow to $19.1 billion in 2016.
  • There were approximately 238,000 NEW power boats sold in 2015. The NMMA expects this number to grow to more than 250,000 in 2016.
  • The recreational boating industry in the U.S. has an annual economic impact of more than $121.5 billion (includes direct, indirect and induced spending), supporting 650,000 direct and indirect American jobs and nearly 35,000 small businesses.