According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the boating industry is booming with demand at an all-time high as Americans plan for a summer on the water. The outlook comes as the pandemic propelled interest in outdoor recreation activities including boating last year.

New boat sales, which reached a 13-year high in 2020, remain at elevated levels with sales through March 2021 up 30 percent compared to the 2020 average, and dealers are selling new boats as fast as they receive them at the start of peak boating season.

“As the country returns to a new normal, people are reassessing how they spend their quality time with loved ones, and many are continuing to choose boating as the preferred choice in recreation,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president. “All signs point to boating demand and boat sales remaining strong as more people discover the mental health benefits, joy and freedom of being outside and on the water.”

Part of what is driving growth for the recreational boating industry is the uptick in first-time boat buyers of new and pre-owned boats and attracting a wider net of U.S. consumers. New data from the NMMA shows that “415,000 first-time boat buyers entered the market in 2020. These buyers are averaging younger and are 1.5x more likely to be women than other buyer groups.”

Also, Discover Boating, the marine industry’s resource hub for consumers who are interested in getting started in boating,  reported traffic on its site is up “56 percent year-over-year through May.” And there has been a “90 percent growth to the site year-over-year through May with 18-to-24-year-olds,” signaling a growing interest among Gen Z.  Millennials make up the largest user segment to its site, and visits by women are up “41 percent through May year-over-year.”

“Boating has seen an increase in more diverse first-time boat buyers who are helping drive sales of versatile, smaller boats that provide a variety of boating experiences, from fishing to watersports,” noted Hugelmeyer.

Photo courtesy National Marine Manufacturers Association