U.S. Boat Sales in 2020 Break Records, Reach 13-Year High

by Madison Miller

There’s no better way to social distance than to buy a boat and float out in the middle of a large body of water. Instead of the bustle of people and cities, calm water and scenic views surround you.

Sale records seem to suggest that a lot of people had that exact idea.

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, they estimated that the sales of new powerboats went up by 12% compared to 2019. This means that more than 310,000 powerboats were sold in 2020. Recreational boat sales are at an unprecedented high. These kinds of sales haven’t been seen since before the Great Recession struck society in 2008.

These numbers represent that boaters come from all kinds of financial backgrounds and areas. There are an estimated 100 million Americans that go boating. Many of which have an income of $75,000 or less, according to the United States Coast Guard.

“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. 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,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, the NMMA president.

Types of Boats Being Used

There were three main kinds of boats that people were looking to buy to try to sail through 2020. They include personal watercrafts, wake boats, and freshwater boats or pontoon boats.

Jet Ski and WaveRunners were especially popular this season. These individual ones were up 8% in 2020. Due to being a one-person activity, it makes sense there was an increase in sales.

Also, wake surfing, skiing, and wakeboarding all became that much more popular. There is an estimated 20% increase in sales.

Lastly, the freshwater and pontoons saw a huge increase. They account for 50% of powerboats sold last year and are up 12% in sales, as well.

A Surplus of Sales and Activity

Sales have been so high that manufactures are still trying to complete a backlog of orders from 2020. However, sales will likely continue to soar well into 2021. The pandemic doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, either. Social distancing will likely continue well into 2021 as the vaccine and other measures seek to stop the spread.

This means recreational outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and boating will all continue to gain popularity. In fact, boating and fishing are the largest outdoor recreational activities.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis calculated that there is a $23.6 billion value related to the business. Also, 30 states cited boating and fishing as their largest outdoor recreational activity.

“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,” said Hugelmeyer.

H/T: Boating Industry