RETAIL SALES VALUE UP 5% FOR NORTH AMERICAN SAILING MARKET
The Sailing Company, publishers of Cruising World and Sailing World magazines, released the results of the 2006 North American Sailing Industry Study at an industry research presentation and breakfast in Miami during the Miami International Boat Show and Strictly Sail.
The breakfast attracted over 130 sailing industry leaders and was co-sponsored by Sail America and GE Capital Solutions. Market data in The Sailing Company's annual study includes sailboat production, sailboat imports, and bareboat charter activity. All of the data was collected and tabulated by Rick Walter Market Research Associates of Hilton Head, SC.
Key study findings included:
- Sailboat production in North America was off 7% in units in calendar 2006.
- US and Canadian sailboat manufacturers produced 14,945 boats in 2006.
- Multihull production was up 11% in 2006 to 2884 units.
- The estimated dollar value of North American sailboat production increased 5% to an estimated total of $755 million in 2006.
- Domestic builders project a 6% increase in sailboat production for 2007.
- Sailboat imports were up 14% in 2006 to a total of 420 units.
- North American consumers booked a total of 26,781 weeks of bareboat charter in 2006, representing almost $75 million in charter fees.
The results of the 2006 North American Sailing Industry study are cause for both concern and optimism. The North America sailboat production level was one of the lowest since the late 1990s, with declines in production of mid-size cruisers from 30'-35' and substantial decreases in the entry-level, under 12' category, perhaps due to a lack of new models.
But there were "bright spots," as the study noted. Strong production increases in boats over 36' pushed the dollar value of North American production up 5% over last year to an estimated total of $755 million. For some sailors today, bigger is better, as the largest production gains were in the 41'-45' segment. Multihull production increased 11%, accounting for nearly one out of four imported sailboats in 2006. Production of daysailors, ranging from 12'-19' feet, increased a modest 3%. The 128 sailboat builders in the U.S. and Canada who contributed to the study also submitted optimistic forecasts for 2007, predicting a strong resurgence in the middle of the market for boats 20'-35.'
Sailboat imports were up substantially in 2006, increasing 14% to a total of 420 units. With two years of consecutive growth, imports have increased by 24% since 2004 despite a weakening dollar. Multihulls accounted for nearly one out of every four imported sailboats in 2006.
Charter companies were off only 432 weeks from 2005, keeping up the rebound which the industry has experienced after a low point in 2002. Charters to the Caribbean account for 56% of the total weeks, with charters in the U.S. and Canada representing another 34%, and Europe and the South Pacific representing 7%.
Overall market performance was driven downward by a number of factors, including fluctuating oil prices, a fizzling real estate market, and continued uncertainty over the war in Iraq. But certain market sectors performed well, benefiting from increased exports and higher demand stimulated by new models.
The long-term outlook for the sailing industry is very positive. The study noted that sailing dovetails with the current psychographics of American consumers. Sailing connects with these powerful market drivers: the need to be connected, the rising influence of women; the importance of preparing children for life's challenges and a new approach to health and wellness, which includes a renewed commitment to being "green."
The Sailing Company has generously offered to provide a free copy of the study to Sail America members. Please send an email to Trish Reardon at Trish.Reardon@bonniercorp.com
to request your copy.