Boat sales in Michigan have hit a “perfect storm.” Lake levels are up, interest rates are down, gas prices are down and beautiful spring weather in Michigan has spurred boat sales up 24% more than in 2014, according to Statistical Surveys.
“We’re moving a lot of boats quickly,” said Brian Rogers, a salesman with Traverse Bay Marine. “It’s basically the perfect storm.”
Michigan is the third largest marine market in the country. With five years of consecutive growth, outpacing the national average each year, new boat, motor, trailer & accessory sales in Michigan totaled more than $762 million in 2014 and experts expect sales to grow again in 2015. Nationally boat sales are up 8% over 2014.
“Higher water levels improve navigability, allowing boaters to see more of the beautiful coastline in Michigan and get in and out of their ports more easily,” said MBIA Executive Director Nicki Polan. The US Army Corps of Engineers forecasts water levels in the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair to increase even further in the next 30 days and remain higher than average levels for the next three years.
Sales Tax on the Difference (STOD) is also an incentive for buyers looking to upgrade their vessel. When purchasing a boat with a trade-in, the customer only pays sales tax on the difference between the new boat and the trade-in value. STOD was signed into law in 2013 by Governor Snyder and dealers have reported many sales have been reported from this long-awaited incentive.
Michigan also has the third largest registrations in the country with nearly 1 million registered boats behind Florida and Minnesota, and another 300,000 non-registered non-powered boat like canoes, kayaks. “If Michigan registered all the non-powered vessels, we’d likely be number one in registrations, which is impressive since we’re a four season state,” said Polan.