With heightened interest in outdoor recreation activities and ways to social distance, consumer demand for new boats surged across the country in 2020. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), representing North American recreational boat, engine and marine accessory manufacturers, reports that retail unit sales of new powerboats in the U.S. increased last year by an estimated 12 percent compared to 2019. More than 310,000 new powerboats were sold in 2020, levels the recreational boating industry has not seen since before the Great Recession in 2008.
“2020 was an extraordinary year for new powerboat sales as more Americans took to the water to escape pandemic stress and enjoy the outdoors safely,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president. “For the first time in more than a decade, we saw an increase in first-time boat buyers, who helped spur growth of versatile, smaller boats – less than 26 feet – that are often towed to local waterways and provide a variety of boating experiences, from fishing to watersports.”
The following new powerboat categories drove record retail unit sales in 2020:
- Sales of personal watercraft, including Jet Ski, Sea Doo and WaveRunner are estimated to be up 8 percent to 82,000 units in 2020; with accessible entry-level price points, personal watercraft are often considered a gateway to boat ownership.
- Sales of wake boats—popular for wakesurfing, skiing and wakeboarding and attractive to new and active boaters—are estimated to be up 20 percent to 13,000 units in 2020.
- Sales of freshwater fishing boats and pontoons boats, often sought for their versatility and entry-level price points and accounting for 50 percent of new powerboats sold in 2020, are expected to be up 12 percent to 143,000 units.
Boat sales are expected to remain at historic levels in 2021 as manufacturers continue to fill a backlog of orders from 2020. Pandemic-related supply chain constraints curbed powerboat production and shipments for several months in 2020, which are expected to subside and restore marine manufacturing to normal levels this year. Additionally, social distancing measures are likely to continue well into the latter months of 2021, spurring additional interest in safe outdoor recreation activities including boating.
“We expect consumer interest in boating to remain strong through 2021 and beyond, with millions of Americans discovering the mental health benefits and joys of being outside and on the water,” noted Hugelmeyer.
READ MORE at nmma.org