Boat sales trends and statistics 2024

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In 1980, there were 8.58 million recreational boats registered in the U.S. By 2022, that number had grown to 11.77 million registered vessels. Recreational boat sales, both motorized and nonmotorized, influence a significant portion of the outdoor recreation economy in the U.S. Globally, the leisure boat market continues to grow, driven by investments in tourism and recreation.

Key insights

The global market for leisure boats was valued at $42.3 billion in 2022.

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In 2021, as many as 1.15 million pre-owned boats were sold, an increase of 9.2% over the previous year.

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In 2022, North America held the dominant share of global revenue in the leisure boat market, with 44.4%.

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Annually, around 85 million Americans go boating in one form or another.

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In 2022, the U.S. had 11.77 million boats documented, down slightly from 11.96 million registered boats in 2021.

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Boat sales statistics

Demand for boats surged during the pandemic, and despite a more recent decline in sales, boating remains a large industry globally, especially in the U.S.

  • In 2022, U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services amounted to $59.3 billion, an increase of 4% from 2021.
  • In 2021, total U.S. sales of boats, marine products and services equaled $56.7 billion.
  • The total economic impact of the U.S. boating industry alone is $230 billion and includes 812,000 jobs.
  • Almost 1 million people purchased a boat for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How big is boating by region?

In 2022, North America held the dominant share of global revenue in the leisure boat market, with 44.4%. A resurgence in the economy and availability of affordable credit among consumers helped increase boat sales in the region. Within North America, the U.S. share was 57.4%, largely due to increasing sales in Florida, California and New York. Rising interest in marine recreational activities continues to influence the U.S. market share. However, boat sales are down in 2023 and 2024, thanks to rising interest rates, inflation and shifting consumer confidence.

Europe and the Asia-Pacific region will see expanded sales and growth between 2023 and 2030. Rising demand for boating in the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Spain, thanks to boating events and trade shows, is aiding growth. In Asia-Pacific, boating growth comes directly from tourism development and promotion, including by China.

Boat buyer demographics and lifestyle

Each year, approximately 85 million Americans engage in boating in one form or another. Traditionally, boaters in the U.S. tend to be older than the average American. With a median age of 54, boaters in the U.S. are older than the overall U.S. median age. They also tend to have higher incomes and higher net worths, allowing them disposable capital to spend money on expensive boats, maintenance and other fees associated with boating. Boaters in America are also more likely to be male and identify as Caucasian.

However, the current trajectory indicates that the traditional boater population may shrink as the overall U.S. population becomes more multicultural. Potential opportunities for expanding the U.S. boater population will come from the younger generations. The boating industry has the best chance to expand ownership among this group by focusing on aspects important to this demographic.

For example, younger generations are more environmentally conscious. They may be more likely to become boaters if they see more eco-friendly options and companies showing their care for the environment. Younger generations more heavily consume content on social media, which means boating companies may attract interest through ads on social platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

What state has the most boaters?

In 2022, the U.S. had 11.77 million boats documented, down slightly from 11.96 million registered boats in 2021. The Great Lakes region accounted for the most boats in the U.S., with 34.1% of all boat registrations. The South Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions followed with significantly lower percentages.

In 2022, Florida had the highest number of registered recreational boating vessels in the U.S., with just over 1 million. After Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio and California were the states accounting for the most registered boats.

The smallest number of registered vessels in 2022 was recorded in Washington, D.C., with under 2,000.

FAQ

Are boat sales currently in decline?

Boat sales appear to be dipping slightly after surging during COVID-19. New powerboat sales are on track to be down in 2023 by about 1% to 3%. However, personal watercraft designed for one to three people might see rising demand to a tune between 20% and 25%. Personal watercraft typically sell at lower prices, which makes them increasingly accessible to more consumers.

What are the major sales trends in the boat industry?

Personal watercraft sales are expected to expand, likely due to the reasonable pricing that makes them an entry-level vessel. Nonmotorized leisure boats are also expected to see rising growth and revenue, in large part due to their low ecological impact. Advanced technologies, including AI, smart sensors, GPS and more, have increasingly become the focus of boat manufacturing.

Are boats still in high demand?

Boat sales after COVID-19 appear to be shifting from powerboats to personal watercraft. Around 1 million boats were sold during the pandemic, and their owners continue to enjoy boating.

Is boating on the decline?

No, boating remains a popular recreational activity for millions of Americans. In 2021, the marine economy contributed 1.9% of the total U.S. GDP, an increase from 1.7% in 2020.

What is the boat market forecast?

Between 2023 and 2030, a 5.3% CAGR is predicted to grow revenue significantly from 2022’s $42.3 billion. During the same period, the U.S. market is predicted to see 3.7% growth.


References

  1. “Number of registered recreational boats in the United States from 1980 to 2022.” Statista. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  2. “U.S. boat sales cool following COVID-era demand surge.” Marine Fabricator. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  3. “Recreational Boating Maintains Momentum Heading into 2023 as Americans Continue Prioritizing Outdoor Recreation in Record Numbers.” National Marine Manufacturer Association. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  4. “Innovation Takes Center Stage as U.S. Boat Sales Cool Following COVID-Era Demand Surge.” National Marine Manufacturer Association. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  5. “Leisure Boat Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Type (New Leisure Boat, Used Leisure Boat), By Product (Motorized, Non-motorized), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2023 - 2030.” Grand View Research. Evaluated May 17, 2024.Link Here
  6. Murray, T. J., et al. “Recent Growth and Economic Impact of the Recreational Marine Industry in Southeast Florida’s Tri-County Region - 2022.” Marine Industries Association Of South Florida. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  7. Stafford, J. “NMMA releases demographic research.” BoatingIndustry.com. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  8. Tyson, A., Kennedy, B., & Funk, C. “Gen Z, Millennials Stand Out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement With Issue.” Pew Research Center. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  9. Rideout, V., & Watkins, S. “Millennials, Social Media, and Politics.” The University of Texas at Austin Institute for Media Innovation. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  10. Quandt, A. “NMMA releases 2022 Total Boat Registrations report.” BoatingIndustry.com. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  11. “Number of registered recreational boats in the United States in 2022, by state.” Statista. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here
  12. “Marine Economy Satellite Account, 2021.” Bureau of Economic Analysis. Evaluated on May 17, 2024.Link Here

Figures

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