Area boat dealers anticipate 2014 to be a good year after sales increased during 2013.
“While we are not going to be where we were in 2007, the indication is that 2014 will be another good year,” said Rick Smith, Temple-based Marine Outlet owner and president of the Central Texas Marine Association.
For dealers, several of the last couple of years recorded a low number of sales starting in 2008, Smith said.
By 2011, sales started to recover and gains have continued through 2013.
Sales were particularly hard for Central Texas boat dealers as 2007 experienced floods that closed boat ramps on Stillhouse Hollow and Belton lakes, said Cliff Brown, Texas Boat World owner.
The year was followed by a weakened national economy, high gas prices and droughts across most of Texas.
Texas Boat World, however, sold about 260 boats in 2013, Brown said.
The year wasn’t record-breaking, but the Harker Heights dealer was a top seller for Stingray and Triton boats.
“We sold a lot of big bass boats here locally and around the state,” Brown said.
Brown and Smith said Belton and Stillhouse lakes see people taking to their waters for a number of reasons to include fishing and water skiing.
Pontoon and aluminum boats have started to become more popular because they are lighter and conserve more fuel, Smith said.
Pontoons also have larger engines these days, allowing them to travel up to 60 mph, Brown said.
Kayaking also is growing in popularity, Smith said.
Regardless what people are purchasing, Brown said he was glad to see people getting back on the water. Boating “creates memories for a lifetime.”
Unlike cars, boats are more of a luxury item because you don’t need them to get to and from work, Brown said. But there have been some good signs, such as banks and credit unions increasing lending.
“We have seen the turnaround, and unless something really bad nationally happens, we feel that we are in for several years for strong growth,” Smith said.
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