NMMA State of the Industry – More Positive News

Andy Adams 2018

Mar 9, 2021

Last week, during the NMMA State of the Recreational Boating Industry virtual event, President Frank Hugelmeyer shared some very impressive numbers.

He stated that all major outdoor activities are in growth mode, but recreational boating and fishing were the single largest contributor to the $170 billion a year ecosystem. The US outdoor economy grew 12% in 2020. An impressive part of that was that 310,000 new boats were sold, a thirteen-year high.

Perhaps the most encouraging statistic is the fact that their research indicates the US gained 100,000 new boaters in 2020. 

More importantly, 30% of all 2020 buyers were new boaters and were both younger and more diverse ethnically. There were sales increases across all segments in both new and preowned boats. Boat manufacturers built over 200,000 last year.

Hugelmeyer said that boat builders were in a race to catch up to the demand with inventory levels 20% below average at present and with six-months of backordered product. The American data echoed some of the information provided to us by Sara Anghel of NMMA Canada during our NMMA Canada Virtual State of the Industry session last February 9.

In addition to a number of important accomplishments in terms of NMMA Canada’s work with the Canadian Outdoor Roundtable and their lobbying activities, plus the benefit of having Sara Anghel representing Canada as the current president of ICOMIA, there has been a lot of lobbying success in the past year. Perhaps most important for the Canadian industry is that for the moment, the previously proposed luxury tax on boats is out of the mandate for government, suggesting that we may have dodged that bullet. Great going by NMMA Canada.

She covered statistics about the upward trajectory of our new boat sales. After the predictable dip that we suffered in Q1 and Q2 of 2020, we’ve seen a huge sales spike that ran right through the summer and into the fall with significant sales numbers still being reported in December of 2020.

The measures I was most interested in were around the number of new boaters, or new boat buyers reported by the NMMA in both Canada and the United States.

While Canada’s data is not so rich as that from the USA, an interesting measure of new boater engagement that Sara Anghel showed was that the number of Pleasure Craft Operator Cards (PCOC) issued by the government went up by 73% compared to the 2019 numbers and it was still going strong into December. Other data she shared came from a survey of Canadian Consumer Demographics showing that First Time Boat Buyers were:

  • more likely to purchase pre-owned
  • skew slightly older [average age 46.5 versus 44.5 in the United States]
  • Canada has a more homogeneous group [84% white versus 77% in the United States]
  • The second largest ethnic group are Asians [ 12% in Canada versus 6% in the United States]

While the experience of dealing with COVID-19 has been difficult for everybody and terrible for some, boating has clearly benefitted. If you have not seen the two NMMA State of the Industry virtual events, both were made available as virtual presentations afterward.

While the NMMA Canada shared Zoom file is now ended, the NMMA session from March 4 is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8eT4j_Ds-o

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