WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The start of a new year brings the beginning of boat show season for the $170 billion U.S. recreational boating industry and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), which represents 85 percent of the country’s recreational boat, marine engine and accessory manufacturers. The recreational boating industry is preparing to welcome an estimated two million Americans to dozens of boat shows between January and March to shop the latest boats as they continue prioritizing outdoor recreation. Boat retailers and manufacturers have historically generated between 30-to-50 percent of their annual sales at boat shows.
Coming off a record year of extraordinary demand in 2021 led to the second highest ranked year in nearly two decades for recreational marine expenditures at $56.7 billion. New powerboat retail unit sales normalized in 2022, down an estimated 15-18 percent, to pre-pandemic growth years (2015-2019) with an estimated 250,000 new units sold, 25 percent above previous averages (2008-2014). Looking ahead to 2023, early indications point to continued healthy demand with new retail unit sales expected to remain on par with 2022.
This momentum comes as Americans demonstrate an ongoing prioritization of a life well-lived, spent enjoying outdoor experiences with family and friends and marine manufacturers continue strategically managing production and inventory pipelines following two years of supply chain bottlenecks. Segments driving growth in 2022 included entry-level boats such as personal watercraft, freshwater aluminum and fiberglass fishing boats, as well as pontoon boats that are less than 26 feet.
“Last year was a healthy year for recreational boating with momentum coming off of record sales in 2021 due to continued demand and the fact that supply chain shortages prevented our industry from overproducing like we saw happen in other sectors over the past two years,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, NMMA president. “With boat shows fully returning following two years of limited events due to COVID, we’ve already seen encouraging sales reports within certain categories, coupled with consumers continuing to invest in the unique experiences that come from being on the water.”
New data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), released in November, shows the outdoor recreation economy has seen record-breaking years, sustaining remarkable growth despite navigating a post-pandemic environment. In 2021, outdoor recreation generated $862 billion in economic output, accounting for 1.9 percent of U.S. GDP, making it a larger contributor than agriculture, extraction of oil and gas, and mining. Outdoor recreation also supported 4.5 million American jobs. What’s more, recreational boating and fishing are the number one contributor to the near-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy, surpassing RVing, hunting, and other outdoor activities.