Data reported by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) show that new powerboat retail unit sales are expected to surpass 300,000 units for the second consecutive year, closing 2021 an estimated 4 to 6 percent below record highs in 2020 and 7 percent above the five-year sales average.
Amid heightened demand for new boats, boat builders experienced supply chain disruptions during the pandemic like other manufacturers across the country, which impacted new boat deliveries to retailers and put constraints on growth in 2021. Manufacturing productivity is revving back up to meet demand for new boats, with boat building production nearing pre-pandemic levels as supply chain constraints ease.
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 continue to be impacted by COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports that recreational boating and fishing are the number one contributor to the $689 billion outdoor recreation economy, surpassing RVing, hiking and several other outdoor recreational activities. In fact, the economic contribution from boating and fishing were up nearly 30 percent 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 percent.
Additional statistics on the industry’s size, makeup and demographics include:
- Annual U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services totaled $49.3 billion in 2020, up 14 percent from 2019.
- An estimated 1.1 million pre-owned boats were sold in 2021.
- The recreational boating industry supports more than 690,000 American jobs and 35,000 American businesses.
- Outdoor recreation accounts for 1.8 percent of U.S. GDP, generating $689 billion in gross economic output, of which recreational boating and fishing is the single largest segment, contributing nearly $31 billion in gross output and supporting 4.3 million American jobs. (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis)
- Ninety-five percent of boats sold in the U.S. are American made.
- An estimated 100 million Americans go boating each year.
- Sixty-one percent of boat owners have an annual household income of $100,000 or less.
- Ninety-five percent of boats on the water in the U.S. are less than 26 feet—boats that can be trailered by a vehicle to local waterways.
The following states led the nation in sales of new powerboats, engines, trailers and accessories in 2020:
- Florida: $4.3 billion, up 28 percent from 2019
- Texas: $2.4 billion, up 22 percent from 2019
- Michigan: $1.3 billion, up 12 percent from 2019
- North Carolina: $1.2 billion, up 24 percent from 2019
- Minnesota: $1.1 billion, up 14 percent from 2019
- Wisconsin: $967 million, up 22 percent from 2019
- New York: $966 million, up 20 percent from 2019
- California: $948 million, up 17 percent from 2019
- Georgia: $921 million, up 24 percent from 2019
- South Carolina: $859 million, up 20 percent from 2019