The Current Boat Buying Frenzy
Here at Lynden Sports Center, 2020 has been one of the best years yet! Boats have been flying off our shelves and have been selling off the trucks before they even arrive.
Countrywide, dealerships have reported increased boat buying these past few weeks, running short or even out of inventory. Builders of large boats in the $1 to $2 million range report that nationwide inventory is often in single digits, and in some cases only a couple of boats are available for immediate delivery. One financial institution is saying its boat loan business is up 31%.
Marine dealer sentiment shot to their highest levels since 2018, with the outlook on current conditions measuring 76, versus 19 in April, according to a new survey. What makes 2020 such a good year for boat sales?
The three- to five-year outlook also improved among 67 dealers who responded to the Pulse Report, a survey administered by Baird Equity Research in conjunction with the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Trade Only Today.
“The ‘family’ has recognized due to the pandemic, vacation is out for this year,” wrote one dealer respondent. “No amusement parks, hotels, cruises, destinations closed, etcetera. So, let’s look at boating!”
Seventy percent reported retail growth in May, up from just 20 percent prior months, and the strongest recorded in the Pulse Report since July 2018, according to Baird.
Boating is a Sign of the Times
The pandemic has created “a surge in interest in socially-distanced outdoor activities, but the true impact on retail demand is hard to parse — even for those in the industry,” read the Pulse Report.
“I’ve never seen a buying frenzy like this,” wrote one retailer. “Is this a short-term bump or is it a long-term change in consumer habits?”
Used boat retail also altered noticeably, with 74 percent reporting growth, versus just 16 percent reporting a decline.
Used Boat Sales Picking Up, Too
Dealers reported increased consumer interest in listing their boats for sale and a stronger interest in late-model trade-in activity.
Used lean inventory and higher used boat prices support higher levels of new boat sales — a positive for OEMs.
“Our checks support anecdotal evidence that consumers are shifting their leisure time and dollars to socially-distanced outdoor activities,” said the report.