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 in 2021, on par with 2020 — levels the industry hasn’t seen since 2007.
First-time boat buyers accounted for 34 percent of boat sales in 2021, driving growth for the recreational boating industry and further reinforcing heightened demand for boats since the outset of the pandemic.
“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,” noted 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."
Added Jack Ellis, managing director of Info-Link Technologies, “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. We expect the trajectory of first-time boat buyers to soften as boat sales begin to normalize following a record couple of years. However, 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.”