The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) 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.
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.