First-Time Boat Buyers Exceed 415,000 for Second Time in 15 Years

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Info-Link, a market intelligence firm serving the recreational boating industry, reported that 420,000 first-time boat buyers of new and pre-owned boats entered the market last year.

This number is on par with 2020—representing levels the industry hasn’t seen since 2007—and is the clearest indicator that more and more people have recognized the overwhelmingly positive aspects of getting out on the water in nature with family and friends. 

These new boaters, too, will increase the demand for dock space at marinas nationwide. Accustomed to the ease and convenience of using digital platforms, they will appreciate 24/7 slip or mooring booking at marinas so space is waiting for them when they arrive at their destination.

Further, they will use digital tools to plan boating itineraries and seek easy-to-access information on fuel-dock locations, service and maintenance, and other marina offerings.

“This is the second consecutive year we’ve seen the number of first-time boat buyers surpass 415,000—reaching pre-recession levels—an encouraging indicator of growth for the boating industry,” said Jack Ellis, managing director, Info-Link Technologies. 

In 2021, first-time boat buyers accounted for 34 percent of boat sales, driving growth for the recreational boating industry and further reinforcing heightened demand for boats since the outset of the pandemic.

The graph shows the jump in new- and pre-owned boats registered in 2020 and 2021, as reported by NMMA and Info-Link.

Ellis continued: “2022 should see healthy levels of new boat owners enter the market as manufacturers work to refill the pipeline and fulfill the backlog of new orders.”

“The boating industry has seen tremendous growth the last two years as more Americans discovered the freedoms, special moments and accessibility of the boating lifestyle, giving us valuable momentum and creating a strong foundation. Maintaining this momentum is especially important given potential headwinds including competition for consumer spending in the leisure market, inflation on everything from gas and groceries to furniture and apparel, continued supply chain disruptions, and the war in Ukraine,” said Ellen Bradley, NMMA senior vice president of marketing and communications.

“The industry should be thinking strategically about how to manage through these impacts while reinforcing efforts to retain new boat owners, engage long-time customers, and attract the next generation,” she added.

Contact [email protected] for more information.

Published by
May 3, 2022

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