At a time when there is so much wrong in the United States with our political leaders and media, after a year of Pandemic shutdowns that have caused untold human suffering, many Americans are continuing to enjoy life and recreation. Boating is a notable area of growing interest for Americans, a typically pro-American community.
“Boat sales took off during the pandemic, and now dealers can’t keep up with demand,” wrote Katie Tsai for CNBC News in mid-March 2021.
Boat sales skyrocketed last year during the coronavirus pandemic as more Americans turned to the lifestyle amid more flexible work environments that allowed people to spend extra time enjoying the outdoors.
“Sales of boats, marine products, and services across the country leaped to a 13-year high in 2020 to $47 billion, increasing 9% from the prior year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
The trend, which shows few signs of slowing in 2021, shocked industry players who were certain they were in for rough times as the pandemic shut down the economy. Now, dealerships are struggling to maintain inventory, and manufacturers are expanding production capacity to meet demand. Wait times for buyers have jumped from a few weeks to several months. What’s more, first-time buyers are entering the market in larger numbers, a sign that the growth has staying power,” Tsai wrote.
According to their literature:
“The National Marine Manufacturers Association is the leading association representing the recreational
boating industry in North America. NMMA member companies produce more than 80 percent of the boats, engines, trailers, accessories, and gear used by boaters and anglers throughout the U.S. and Canada.”
Key findings from the Q4 2020 Marine CEO Sentiment Report include:
- 96% of marine CEOs reported stable or expanding business conditions.
- 64% of marine CEOs expect business conditions to further improve through the next six months, and another 24% expect business conditions to remain stable.
- Supply chain disruptions, such as slowed deliveries, remained a challenge for 75% of marine manufacturers in the fourth quarter, especially among boat builders.
- Labor costs and availability were cited by the most manufacturers as top challenges, followed by raw material costs, which have been steadily rising since the second half of 2020.
- 67% of marine manufacturers reported either modest or substantial investments in capital expenditures (CapEx) in the fourth quarter.
Access complete findings around data including Workforce, Current Business Conditions, Sales, Supply Chain, and more here.
HISTORIC CHANGES IN BOATING
Last year, the number of first-time boat buyers rose for the first time in over 10 years, up 10% from 2019. Among these new boat buyers, the average age has also decreased for the first time in 20 years, according to the marine association. The entrance of these new young buyers is a bright sign for the future of the industry, said Hugelmeyer.
“You never have a lack of friends who want to go out on a boat. You become very popular and then, family and friend groups begin to expand to become boating families,” Hugelmeyer said.