Marking another milestone in its recovery, the U.S. recreational boat industry sold more than 250,000 boats in 2016 for the first time in eight years.

According to a Soundings Trade Only report, with all 50 states reporting, Statistical Surveys Inc. said today (March 13) that 258,879 boats were sold last year, an increase of 5.4% from 2015. The company said the last time industry sales topped a quarter million was in 2008, when 279,139 were sold as the Great Recession started.

A preliminary report Statistical Surveys issued in January said 246,891 boats were sold in 2016 in 27 early-reporting states. The remaining states added about 12,000 to the final total.

Statistical Surveys Sales Director Ryan Kloppe agreed that topping the 250,000 sales figure was a psychologically important accomplishment for the industry. He said his company predicted sales growth of 4% to 6% percent last year, “and it was right in that ballpark.”

“That’s a lot of volume,” Kloppe said. “There were some segments that had really solid years.”

Kloppe said builders and dealers he spoke with at the recent Miami shows were optimistic about 2017. “They’re not expecting any hiccups, barring an economic disaster,” he said.

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