Boat sales booming as a result of Covid-19 – but will it continue?

Everybody wants to be on the water! That is one thing that was clear during the Covid-19 Pandemic. But what effect has that had on the yachting industry, and is it going to continue?
Sales of all things watersports, from yachts to paddleboards, foil-boards to RIBs and dinghies to jetskis, have soared in the past 18 months hitting a 15 year high. UK new and used boat sales grew by 9% in 2020, a direct reversal of the 8% decline in boat sales seen in 2019 due to slowing global and domestic economic growth. (Boats Group)
British Marine have reported that this growth reflects increased demand for boats across virtually all vessel types and size ranges, but particularly among boats worth over £100,000, unit sales of which were up 18% in 2020. The 2021 numbers will not be released until the end of the year, however similar growth is being reported.

Across the pond in the US the market is seeing similar trends. Boat sales skyrocketed in 2020 as more Americans were getting out on the water. Additionally, more first-time buyers are entering the market, which is a sign that the growth has staying power – as people new to boating enter the market a domino effect takes place with their friends and family getting the bug too.

A limiting factor on demand for boats is widespread global supply chain issues. Some brokers have been struggling to supply new boats with lead times reaching up to a year in some cases. This increase in demand is also raising the value of second hand boats, as they become more sought after for customers who do not want to go on the end of a long waiting list and have cash to spend. Second hand brokers have also been struggling to get their hands on boats with many changing hands privately.

Southampton Boat Show 2021
The Southampton Boat Show last month was a great success – it was positive to see the industry returning to a bit of normality after being cancelled in 2020. The event featured more than 500 boats, 350 marine brands and showcased them all in Europe’s largest purpose-built marina and a new bigger site stretching from West Quay onto Mayflower Park. The numbers were however down 14% from 2019 – although this could be a knock on effect of Covid-19 on large events, as exhibitors reported it was the best show in years.

Whilst the future of the global economy is uncertain post pandemic, it is clear that more people are getting out on the water than ever, and it appears that the pandemic has had a positive impact on the industry that will last for years to come. If you’re thinking about buying a boat for next year – start looking now!

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