Latest US boating data: strong growth and boat sales to surpass 2021

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has shared the latest industry data and trend information, announcing that US new powerboat retail unit sales for 2021 are expected to surpass 300,000 units for the second consecutive year. Last year closed an estimated 4-6 per cent below record highs in 2020, and 7 per cent above the five-year sales average.

Amid heightened demand for new boats, boat builders experienced supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, which impacted new boat deliveries to retailers and put constraints on growth in 2021. As supply chain constraints ease, manufacturing productivity has been increasing to meet demand for new boats, with boat building production nearing pre-pandemic levels.

“Following record sales in 2020, recreational boating remained the leading outdoor recreation sector in the US in 2021 with new powerboat sales exceeding 300,000 units for only the second time in 15 years,” says Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president.

Consumer interest and demand for boating continue to reach near record highs as more Americans seek out boating as an accessible outdoor activity, especially as other leisure activities, sports and travel may still be impacted by Covid-19. It’s reported that 95 per cent of boats on the water in the US are under 26 feet, in other words craft that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.

And it’s not just new boats being sold – an estimated 1.1 million pre-owned boats were also sold in the US during 2021.

According to the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), recreational boating and fishing are the number one contributor to the $689 billion outdoor recreation economy for 2020, surpassing cycling, hiking, and several other outdoor recreational activities. In fact, the economic contribution from boating and fishing was up nearly 30 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.

Looking ahead, 2022 is expected to be another strong year for new boat sales, which are projected to surpass 2021 totals by as much as 3 per cent. US boat manufacturers and dealers are gearing up for the winter boat show season which provide critical sales channels for the industry and can, it’s reported, generate between 30-50 per cent of annual sales and where manufacturers introduce their latest products.

“The pandemic created shifts in how Americans prioritise their time, and boating is an activity they’re doing with family and friends to escape from stresses on land, all while creating fun and adventure. As a result, US marine manufacturing, which provides an estimated 691,000 jobs across the country, is standing out as an example of economic resilience,” continues Hugelmeyer.

“We expect strong momentum for boating and new boat sales to endure through 2022 as Americans from all walks of life explore the great outdoors and turn to the unique joys of being on the water,” concludes Hugelmeyer.

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