This classification covers establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of new and used motorboats and other watercraft, marine supplies, and outboard motors.
In 2001, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 5,301 establishments primarily engaged in the retail sale of new and used motorboats and other watercraft, marine supplies, and outboard motors. The industry employed approximately 39,405 people. In 2004 those figures grew to 5,625 establishments and 42,230 employees. Though the total unit sales of new boats was down nearly 1 percent in 2005, total retail sales of new boats and motors rose 8 percent that year, to $14.7 billion. Inboard ski/wakeboard boats, sterndrive boats, kayaks, personal watercraft, jet boats, and sailboats all increased in sales in 2005, led by inboard ski/wakeboard boats, which grew by 8.6 percent over 2004 sales.
In terms of units sold, outboard boats reached 213,300 in 2005, down from 216,600 in 2004 but ahead of 2002 and 2003 figures. Inboard ski/wakeboard boats continued a trend of annual growth since 2003, with 12,600 units sold in 2005. Cruisers declined below 8,000 units sold in 2005, after reaching as high as 11,800 in 2002. Sterndrive boats held steady at 72,300 units sold in 2005. Unit sales of canoes fell to 77,200 in 2005, continuing a steady decline since 105,800 units were sold in 2001, while kayaks remained popular with 349,400 units sold in 2005. Despite a downturn in units sold, the retail value of outboard boats climbed to $3.2 billion in 2005, up more than $1 billion from 2001. The retail value of inboard ski/wakeboard boats also surpassed $3 billion ($3.15 billion) in 2005.
Recreational boat registrations exceeded 12.78 million in 2004. The top six states in terms of registrations all surpassed 600,000: Florida led with 946,072, followed by Michigan with 944,800; California, with 894,884; Minnesota, with 853,448; Texas, with 616,779; and Wisconsin, with 605,467. Among the top 10 states in recreational boat registrations, Illinois ranked tenth in 2004 and posted the highest increase between 1994 and 2004, at 9.3 percent.
Boat dealers in the United States are, for the most part, independent retailers. Although a...