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Boat sales skyrocketed last year throughout the pandemic, and the trend mirrors no signs of slowing in 2021.Now, dealerships space struggling to keep inventory and also manufacturers are widening production capacity to meet demand.First-time buyers room entering the sector in larger numbers, a sign that the expansion has staying power.

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Boat sales skyrocketed last year during the coronavirus pandemic as an ext Americans turned to the lifestyle amid an ext flexible work atmospheres that enabled people to invest extra time enjoying the outdoors.

Sales that boats, marine products and services across the nation leaped come a 13-year high in 2020 come $47 billion, boosting 9% from the former year, according to the National maritime Manufacturers Association.


The trend, i beg your pardon shows few signs of slowly in 2021, shocked market players that were details they were in for stormy times as the pandemic shut down the economy. Now, dealerships room struggling to preserve inventory and also manufacturers are expanding production capacity to accomplish demand. Wait times because that buyers have actually jumped from a few weeks to number of months. What's more, first-time buyers are entering the industry in bigger numbers, a sign that the growth has staying power.

Eric Wold, one analyst in ~ B. Riley, notes the uncertainty remains with brand-new Covid variants popping up even as vaccine rollouts accelerate, involves that might keep consumers' interest in boating solid in 2021.

"There's still no a most certainty in state of once the economy's going come reopen with the vaccine rollout, therefore the need that we experienced last year will at least proceed into this year, and also that's walking to proceed to drive manufacturing for the manufacturer because that at the very least a couple of years," he said.

Owning a boat can it is in a pricey endeavor. With an individual watercraft prices averaging $13,000, boating is usually viewed as a hobby reserved for the wealthy. Yet according to naval association chairman Frank Hugelmeyer, 61% the boaters have an annual household income of $75,000 or less.


First-time buyers


Steve Arnold, a 57-year-old owner of two Maine marinas and a watercraft club franchisee, proficient a substantial jump in sales critical year. He said sales throughout the plank skyrocketed, with mean sales of new boats increase 40%, used watercraft sales up 45%, rental boats up 65% and also Freedom watercraft Club memberships up 28%. He said he has never seen those kinds of numbers during his 18 years in the business.


And while he expects sales come dip 5% come 10% this year, that will still be fine ahead that expectations.

He stated the impacts of the pandemic have actually left a positive influence on the boating industry that will certainly last because that years come come. "I think Covid changed society for the much better in terms of looking towards your family and your relationship in her discretionary time," that said.

As new boaters get in the market, a domino impact is acquisition place, with their friends and families obtaining into the activity as well.

Last year, the variety of first-time boat buyers rose for the first time in end 10 years, up 10% native 2019. Among these brand-new boat buyers, the average period has additionally decreased because that the an initial time in 20 years, according to the marine association. The enntrance gate of these brand-new young buyers is bright sign for the future that the industry, claimed Hugelmeyer.

"You never have a absence of friends who want to go the end on a boat. Girlfriend become an extremely popular and then, family and friend groups start to increase to come to be boating families," Hugelmeyer said.

In addition, Americans are finding that their work-from-home schedule allows for an ext flexibility to do tasks when they desire to.

"We have these longer-term outcomes of Covid consisting of flexible working arrangements that i think will allow people to engage in boating much more flexibly during that week," Brunswick CEO David Foulkes said. Brunswick is the parent agency of popular watercraft manufacturing brands prefer Boston Whaler and Sea Ray.


Rick Davis, sales and also finance manager in ~ Palmetto boat Sales, a dealership in southern Carolina, knowledgeable firsthand the level of how high the consumer demand for boats has grown throughout the pandemic.

"We thought we to be done for year, as far as service goes and 30 job later, it's actually the finish opposite. It was the ideal year in my 24-25 years, for sure," Davis said.

Sales of new powerboats in the U.S. Raised by around 12% critical year to an ext than 310,000 contrasted with 2019, the naval association said. Amongst the categories of watercrafts consumers bought, freshwater fishing boats and also pontoons boats were very popular, audit for fifty percent of critical year's powerboat sales. Sales of new wake boats, supplied for wakeboarding and wake surfing, were up 20% to 13,000 systems in 2020, the combination reported.

Membership-based Freedom boat Club, i m sorry appeals come those who don't desire to fully commit to purchasing a boat, has likewise seen a rise of customer interest. The division of Brunswick Corp. Observed a 61% rise in membership because May 2019 throughout 31 states, Canada and Europe.

Brunswick's most rewarding categories throughout the pandemic were mainly its parts and accessories businesses, most notably native the Mercury marine brand.

"As more and much more people come right into the boating lifestyle and use boats, as whole boat usage drives the require for much more parts and also accessories," Baird senior analyst Craig Kennison said.


Many watercraft retailers are still fulfilling your backlog of order going right into this year. Social distancing actions are intended to remain in place for the near future in many areas throughout the country, so people are tho purchasing watercrafts as a way to safely reap the outdoors, especially in the more temperate months.

Arnold claimed that prior to the pandemic, the average wait time to get a watercraft was four to 6 weeks. Now, he claims it have the right to take as much as eight months because that customers to receive their boat.

Brunswick announced last year that it increased its boat production volume in 3 of that is manufacturing framework to accomplish the increased customer demand. Still, Foulkes said it will certainly be at least two or three years until it can totally restock its watercraft dealers.

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"Dealers room looking for boats from us and we're ramping up manufacturing as rapid as we can, not simply to fulfill retail demand, yet all sorts of demand to fill the pipeline, i beg your pardon became very depleted of field inventory," Foulkes said.