[March 2017] 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.

With all 50 states reporting, Statistical Surveys confirmed that 258,879 boats were sold last year, an increase of 5.4 percent 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.

The 50-state figures included sales of 169,121 boats in the main powerboat segments, an increase of 5.7 percent from 2015. The main-segments sales were dominated by three categories that have been the group’s best sellers since the recession ended.

Outboard fiberglass boats from 11 to 50 feet were the top-selling category in the main segments at 50,087, up 5.8 percent from 47,351 the previous year. Not far behind were aluminum pontoon boats at 48,564, up 9.4 percent from 44,406 in 2015. Sales of aluminum fishing boats totaled 47,461, 3.7 percent higher than the previous year, when 45,751 were sold.

Sales of ski and wake boats, a rising category, rose 11.7 percent to 8,787 from 7,868 the year before, achieving the highest percentage gain among the main segments.

Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe expects that outboard fiberglass boats, aluminum pontoons and fishing boats, and ski and wake boats will continue to carry the industry this year.

“We’re predicting a couple more years, at least, of moderate [industrywide] sales growth,” he said.

The top-selling category in the overall industry was personal watercraft, which sits outside the main segments. A total of 59,419 PWC were sold last year, a 7.6 percent increase from 55,221 the previous year.

Jetboat sales rose 5.8 percent to 4,721 from 4,463 the previous year.

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