THE CHOPPY ECONOMY may mean rough seas ahead for personal watercraft as well as boats and other categories of recreational powersports vehicles.
The Chicago-based National Marine Manufacturers Association reports that sales of powered boats (recreational motorized boats more than 15 feet long) declined 23 percent in the first eight months of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007.
Actual numbers for PWC sales are not yet available, but Maureen Healy, executive director of the Personal Watercraft Industry Association, told the Kane County Chronicle sales of personal watercraft could decline from 15 to 20 percent this year compared to last year. Sales were down last year as well.
Bob Conley, owner of Fox Valley Cycles in Aurora, Ill., which also sells Honda personal watercraft, said interest in his watercraft has been lower this year.
“We started seeing it in March,” Conley told the Chronicle. “That’s when business for those things starts picking up. But this year, it just didn’t pick up like we’re used to.”
While it might be bad for his business, Conley said he understands why.
“It’s all about discretionary income,” Conley said. “People need to spend it on things they need, not necessarily on things they want. So we’ll just have to weather this.”