NMMA: U.S. Tow Boat Sales Remain Buoyant Since 2011

Sales of towboats in the U.S. have continued to increase over the last six years, which led it to be a growth leader in the industry, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

Vicky Yu, NMMA’s Director of Industry Statistics and Research, said that the growth trend took place during the economic recovery. Over the past five years, the sales record has reached double-digit growth.

Growth Years

NMMA data showed that the tow boat sales rose to 8,700 units in 2016 from 7,800 boats in 2015. The figures have been on a continually increasing trend from a base number of 4,850 boats in 2011. Since then, the market has sold 5,500 boats in 2012, 6,100 boats in 2013, and 7,100 units in 2014.

The monetary equivalent to sold boats has increased as well. In 2016, the total retail value of towboat sales amounted to $818.3 million, or an estimated average of $94,000 apiece, according to the NMMA. For the secondary market, the number of used towboats has also risen due to a higher migration in towboat size and features with a 6.8% increase in 2016 over the years. Second-hand tow boats accounted for 2.1% of total used boat sales.

Market Drivers

The popularity of water skiing and wakeboarding positively affected sales of towboats in the U.S. In states such as Texas, shorestationboatlifts.com noted that boat lifts in Rockport and other cities have been a common sight since the state is the second largest boating market in the U.S., according to the NMMA.

Total sales of new boats, engines and accessories in 2016 amounted to $1.4 billion, according to NMMA’s Statistical Abstract.

As tow boat prices have also increased, many first-time buyers should consider buying towboats. While these boats may lack certain features found in newer versions, buying a pre-owned boat lets you spend on other accessories and equipment.