Even under local stay-at-home orders, Americans have been considering new ways to travel and vacation: recreational boating and yachting.
Boating offers a way to enjoy the outdoors while avoiding the crowds and interactions involved with conventional travel. All of this helps to explain why dealers across the nation have reported record interest and robust sales, with a huge increase in first-time customers.
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the leading trade association representing boat, marine engine, and accessory manufacturers, total new U.S. recreational boat sales in May were the highest in a single month since 2007. Their data shows total new boat sales were up 59% in May compared to April, and up 19% compared to May 2019.
“Amid ever-changing state orders, social-distancing guidelines, and the new normal, it is clear that there will be lasting impacts to the way we previously carried out our daily lives. This new reality also applies to how we vacation, relax, and blow off steam,” says NMMA President, Frank Hugelmeyer.
Hugelmeyer also notes that many dealers are reporting a substantial increase in first-time boat buyers.
Barrett Canfield, president of South Coast Yachts in San Diego and Newport Beach, CA, says that his business is up about 45% year-over-year for May and June. He and his local colleagues in San Diego, CA have also notices that charter companies are extremely busy and that “boats are booking out well in advance.”
Executives in the superyacht industry also have reported similar pandemic-related spikes.
“In July, we had more than double the amount of sales we had in the same month last year, and our strong pipeline signals continued interest and activity for the coming months,” says Daniel Ziriakus, President and COO of Northrop & Johnson, a superyacht marketing firm.
Ziriakus also noted that overall inquiries for charters have increased 113% compared to data from last year, especially when looking at first-timers
He adds, “with many travel restrictions still in place, for this summer at least, we’re seeing clients booking charters closer to home, with Europeans mostly booking in the Mediterranean and Americans booking charters in New England, The Bahamas and the Caribbean.”
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