New Boat Sales Dip Below Pre-Pandemic Levels Through July

The NMMA reports new powerboat sales year-to-date were at 187,000 units through July, down 18 percent from the same period in 2021. While overall new powerboat sales decreased 11 percent compared to January through July in  pre-pandemic 2019, several categories continue to outpace pre-pandemic YTD sales levels, including new pontoons, wake sport boats and yachts.

“In the first seven months of the year, new boat sales have dipped below our 2019 pace demonstrating that the combination of economic uncertainty and the expected return of competition for consumers’ attention are starting to show their impact,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president. “This is not unique to boating as most industries are experiencing pressures as inflation, a volatile stock market and talk of a global recession have grown. NMMA will be working to keep boating top of mind for consumers and the business community through the industry’s Discover Boating efforts, including boat shows launching this January. Now is the time to closely manage pipelines, credit availability, and consumer demand and lean into customer engagement and marketing following record interest the past two years. And, while we proceed cautiously, when looking across the 20-year trend-line, 2022 is expected to be a healthy year for our industry.”

Through July, new powerboat categories outpacing YTD sales compared to pre-pandemic levels included:

  • New pontoon unit sales were down 13 percent YTD compared to the same period in 2021, while 3 percent above pre-pandemic Jan.-July 2019.
  • Unit sales of new wake sport boats were down 11 percent YTD compared to the same period in 2021, while 16 percent above pre-pandemic Jan.-July 2019.
  • New yacht unit sales YTD were flat with the same period in 2021, while 16 percent above pre-pandemic Jan.-July 2019.

Data tracked on a rolling 12-month basis in NMMA’s latest New Powerboat Registrations Report through July 2022 includes:

  • New powerboat sales were down 16.7 percent (R12M YOY) compared to the previous 12 months.
  • All new powerboat categories saw sales decline on a R12M basis through July.

NMMA member wholesale activity shows certain segments still working against supply chain constraints to balance inventory. According to NMMA’s Monthly Shipment Report:

  • Wholesale shipments of new powerboats through July 2022 decreased 6 percent year over year.
  • Wholesale shipments of outboard engines increased 6 percent year over year.
  • Notably, the wholesale retail ratio through July for freshwater fishing boats, personal watercraft, and wake sport boat categories indicates improved product availability compared to earlier in the boating season.

“While the persistent supply chain turbulence and challenges are far from ideal, they have prevented us from overproducing as some other industry sectors did throughout the past two years. Marine dealer inventories remain fairly lean signaling that pipelines are still being refilled, leaving the industry in a healthier position than past slowdowns in recent history.”

NMMA members can access the New Powerboat Registrations Report and Monthly Shipment Report on here or contact for more information.

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 $56.6 billion in 2021, up 9 percent 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 percent 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.
  • Recreational boating and fishing are the number one contributor to the national outdoor recreation economy. Source – U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
    • Traditional outdoor recreation activities – such as boating, fishing, hiking, and RVing – are thriving, increasing their contributions to the overall outdoor recreation economy by 22%.