The Rising Tide of Consumer Interest Lifts Boat Prices, Sinks Inventories
Interest in boating surged due to stay-at-home orders back in 2020, and the wave doesn’t show any signs of letting up. In 2021, the number of first-time boat buyers surpassed 415,000 for the second year in a row, reaching heights not seen since before the 2008 housing crash. And much like all of the other types of equipment we track, high demand is being met by rising prices and low inventories.
2022 Model Offerings Plunge
In last month’s blog on the RV market, we pointed out how manufacturers have responded to supply chain hurdles, worker shortages, and inflation by streamlining their product offering. We’re seeing a similar trend in boating. My colleague Michael Quinlan, Jr. Manager of Data Structuring for EquipmentWatch, Price Digests, & FleetSeek, says, “I’ve seen some brands not making any 2022 models at all and many brands have cut back on the number of models they’re making for the 2022 model year.”
Our data shows that some brands reduced the number of available models/configurations significantly, some more than 50%. Here are some of the most notable drops:
Let’s look at which categories have seen the biggest changes in model availability.
As you can see, the largest decrease in models and configurations is among outboards, which dropped 74%, from 4,699 to 1,212 They were followed by pontoon decks and houseboats decreased by 41.9%, from 6,274 to 3,644. While the number of outboards didn’t decrease as much as other categories—21%—production has been delayed. Michael points out, “Boats usually come out around August and September, but this past year the motors didn’t start to come out until Q1 of this year.” Though all boat components are in short supply, motor production has been particularly hampered by the semiconductor shortage.
No Surprise—Costs Are Still Rising
We’re seeing a roughly 10% year-over-year average increase in boat MSRPs. Here are the 2021 and 2022 average price increases for some popular models:
- Lund 1875 Crossover XS Sport increased 21.7%, from $25,206 to $32,055.
- Mastercraft NXT 22 increased 28.1%, from $76,007 to $97,390.
- The Sea Ray Sundancer 320 increased 20%, from $301,951 to $363,902.
- The Crestliner 1860 Retriever Jon increased 180.2%, from $5,567 to $15,601.
Average price increases are somewhat consistent across categories. Outboards increased 49.3%, stern drives increased 49.2%, and outboard motors are up by 48.3%. Pontoon deck and houseboats saw a 25.5% increase.
Is Stability On the Horizon?
The personal watercraft category offers a little slice of stability in all of the chaos. The number of 2022 models actually increased by 2 over 2021, and prices only increased an average of 4.9%. It may be a sign of what’s to come. Wholesale shipments of new boats are up, indicating that supply chain snags are finally starting to let up. Stability may be on the horizon.
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