- Associated Press - Monday, June 6, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - In an AP Member Exchange story from June 5 about boat sales in Oklahoma, The Journal Record reported erroneously that Steve Jennings, the owner of Blackbeard Marine Inc., said the company did $2 million in sales this year. He said it did $2 million in sales in May.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Oklahoma City-area retailers surprised by hike in boat sales

The state is below the national trend in boat sales, but retailers report this season is faring better than last year

An AP Member Exchange shared by The Journal Record.


The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The state is below the national trend in boat sales, but retailers report this season is faring better than last year.

“If you look at both of our locations, we’re up about 70 percent (in sales), year to date,” Steve Jennings, owner of Blackbeard Marine Inc. in Tulsa and Kingston, told The Journal Record (https://bit.ly/25CTgfU ).

Jennings works at the Kingston location, which sprawls across 13 acres. The Tulsa store is only about 3 acres, and he said he’s running out of storage room. He said he’s done $2 million in sales this month, with another $2.5 million waiting to close.

“Our summer really gets going May to Labor Day,” he said. “We’ll sell double the rest of the year.”

Nationally, it’s expected to be a good year for boat sales, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The group anticipates sales of new powerboats will increase 5 to 7 percent over last year. In 2015, powerboat sales increased 8.5 percent compared to 2014.

NMMA President Thom Dammrich said warm, sunny weather will drive more people to retailers and waterways. He said boating is not as susceptible to low gasoline prices, though some people do take their extra disposable income and purchase a watercraft.

He said the retail increase is likely about the weather. In Oklahoma last summer, several lakes were flooded, which kept people off the water. But in Texas and California, some areas had drought conditions. This summer, lake levels seem to be returning to normal, he said.

Nevertheless, Oklahoma has to climb out of a small hole from 2014, when boating registrations decreased 1 percent compared to 2013. New powerboat, outboard engine, trailer and aftermarket accessory sales increased $2 million. Between 2013 and 2014, there was about a $28 million increase in the accessory sales, according to the NMMA.

Dammrich said two summers of extreme weather - drought and then flooding - could have caused some boaters or potential boaters to get cabin fever; this year, they were anxious to get to retailers or boat shows.

At Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees, Shangri-La Marina and Boat Sales didn’t see a slowdown in sales after the winter boat shows, said Mike Williams, communications director.

“Sales have been increasing and consistent since the Tulsa and Oklahoma City boat shows in February,” he said.

Sales are up 15 percent compared to the same time period last year. He said his team is surprised at the increase. They were bracing for a slow year after energy-industry layoffs. He said when the price of oil dropped in the 1980s, it devastated the retail boat industry.

“Oklahoma’s economy has become much more diversified, and we can sure see that in boat sales,” he said.

Oklahoma boat registrations have not reached the pre-recession total of 223,758, which was the 2007 amount. Nationwide, Dammrich said sales haven’t reached the 2007 numbers either. In 2007, about 270,000 powerboats were sold, with 238,000 sold in 2015.

“It’s been a slow road back,” he said. “Everyone would like a much faster recovery, but it’s been a healthy way to come back.”

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