New powerboat sales normalizing, outpace pre-pandemic levels

Published On: June 7, 2022Categories: Industry News, News

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) reports new powerboat sales through Q1 2022 are showing signs of normalizing following two years of historic growth. In the first quarter, new powerboat retail sales totaled 54,000 units, down 20% compared to Q1 2021, while continuing to surpass pre-pandemic levels, up 20% from Q1 2019’s 45,000 units.

“Not surprisingly, we’re seeing sales begin to stabilize following extraordinary growth in 2020 and 2021 as competition returns for consumer spending among goods and services that were in many ways inaccessible during COVID,” says Ellen Bradley, NMMA senior vice president. “We expect boat sales this year to be healthy, on par with or above pre-pandemic levels.”

According to the NMMA’s latest New Powerboat Registrations Report through Q1 2022:

  • New personal watercraft retail sales while down 30% through Q1 2022, were 34% above pre-pandemic Q1 2019. 
  • New pontoon retail sales were down 12% through Q1 2022, while 49% above pre-pandemic Q1 2019.
  • Retail sales of new wakesport boats were down 11% through Q1 2022, while 62% above pre-pandemic Q1 2019.
  • New cruiser retail sales while down 17% through Q1 2022, were 17% above pre-pandemic Q1 2019.

Additional insights across NMMA member wholesale activity show recreational boat, engine and accessory manufacturers are working to balance inventory levels and fulfill retail orders while navigating ongoing supply chain challenges. Those supply chain challenges are expected to continue through 2022. According to NMMA’s Monthly Shipment Report, wholesale shipments of new powerboats through Q1 2022 decreased 13% year over year; wholesale shipments of outboard engines increased 4.8% year over year; and wholesale shipments of trailers increased 37.9% year over year.

U.S. recreational boating industry by the numbers:

  • New powerboat retail unit sales in 2021 reached approximately 300,000, the second time the industry reached that number in nearly 15 years (2020 and 2021).
  • Annual U.S. marine industry expenditures of boats, marine products and services totaled $54 billion in 2021, up 9% from 2020.
  • Part of what is fueling sales for the recreational boating industry is the uptick in first-time boat buyers of new and pre-owned boats, attracting a wider net of Americans. Data show 420,000 first-time boat buyers entered the market in 2021–on par with 2020, a record year. First-time boat buyers accounted for 34% of boat sales in 2021.
  • Boaters come from all ages, walks of life and areas of the country.
  • An estimated 100 million Americans go boating each year.
  • Sixty-one percent of boaters have an annual household income of $75,000 or less. Source – United States Coast Guard
  • 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.
  • Ninety-five percent of boats sold in the U.S. are American made.
  • The recreational boating industry supports 691,149 American jobs (511,117 direct jobs and 180,032 indirect jobs) and 35,277 American businesses.
  • Outdoor recreation generated $689 billion in gross output in 2020, during a year of shutdowns and closures, and 4.3 million jobs in communities across the country. Source – U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
  • Recreational boating and fishing are the number one contributor to the national outdoor recreation economy.
  • Traditional outdoor recreation activities – such as boating, fishing, hiking, and RVing – are thriving, increasing their contributions to the overall outdoor recreation economy by 22%.