Having trouble finding the right boat in the current market? Believe it or not, it could be COVID related.
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), national new boat sales were up 19% this spring compared with May 2019, with personal watercraft sales up 75%, saltwater fishing boats up 9% and jet boats 31%. Outboard engine sales were up an average of 28% in June from pre-pandemic levels.
“Since states started relaxing stay-at-home orders back in April and May, we’ve seen an uptick in sales across the board in every different type of boat there is,” said NMMA communications director John-Michael Donahue in a recent article in the Atlantic City Press. In fact, as per NMMA statistics, total new boat sales in May were the highest they’ve been in a decade.
Earl Schock, general manager of Waterfront Marine in Somers Point, told the Atlantic City Press that this has been one of the best seasons in years for his business. “Typically, we’d have 14 or 15 boats in the showroom at all times and 40 or 50 boats scattered around the property. Right now, we have maybe 10,” Schock told Press staff writer Mark Melhorn. “In March, we had 50 or 60 used boats; I think right now we have two.”
According to Melhorn’s article, the increased emphasis on sales and the shutdown caused by the pandemic also has put a major strain on acquiring new boats to sell. Schock said it usually takes eight weeks to order a boat from the time of sale to the time it’s delivered. During the summer of 2020, that was more like 12 to 14 weeks.
“It’s going to be a difficult thing to replenish our inventory because people are buying them so fast,” Schock said, noting that Waterfront Marine’s sales increased about 27% in July over the same month a year ago.
Donahue said it’s been difficult for the boat-building industry to keep up with demand because of the shutdown caused by the pandemic. “Just like most sectors of the economy and most industries, there is a good amount of supply chain challenges due to the shutdown,” he said. “But the good news is that boat building is back up in all 50 states, and we are confident we will be able to meet the demand going forward.”