US Boat Sales Hit 13-year High

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Influential online marine publication, IBI, reports retail unit sales of new powerboats in the US increased last year by an estimated 12% compared to 2019.


According to American boating federation, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), more than 310,000 new powerboats were sold in 2020. These are levels the recreational boating industry has not seen since before the 2008 global financial crisis.

“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 the 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.”

Categories driving the record sales included personal watercraft (11000 units), and wake boats (13000 units). Sales of freshwater fishing boats and pontoons boats often sought for their versatility and entry-level price points and accounting for 50% of new powerboats sold in 2020, are expected to be up 12% 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. 

Annual US sales of boats, marine products and services are estimated to total $47 billion in 2020, up 9% from 2019. With the retail price of a new aluminium boat package (includes trailer, engine & other accessories) averaging $36,000 and new personal watercraft averaging $13,000, there’s an opportunity for boating to attract more participants.

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