Has the post Covid boating boom bubble burst?

There are signs that the global boating market is returning to normal after sales surged during the Covid-19 pandemic. Online marketplace, Boats Group, reports that the total number of boats sold worldwide decreased last year for the first time since before the pandemic.

The change towards more typical market conditions emerged in 2022 as the total number of boats sold dipped by just 4.3% compared to the same period pre-pandemic in 2019. By comparison, boats sold in 2020 and 2021 were down 15.9% and 11.8% respectively, compared to 2019.

“For the first time in three years, we’re seeing consumer demand soften,” said Courtney Chalmers, vice president of marketing at Boats Group.

“However, the effects of the demand and supply chain disruption during the pandemic are still very apparent. Boats continue to move off the market faster and sales remain higher than before the surge.”

The overall value of vessels dropped below 2021 by roughly 16%, inching closer to values seen in 2020. However, 2022 total values remained higher than before the pandemic boating boom, totalling more than US$11 billion in sales. The global average boat price was 29.5% higher than in 2019 and was comparable to 2021.

According to marine lending company, Trident Funding, boat loan applications were up by 80% in 2022 compared to 2021. Trident reports loan amounts were smaller than in 2021, primarily driven by rising interest rates.

“Borrowers are feeling the elevated boat prices and rate increases, yet are looking to continue their adventures on the water, just in a more affordable way,” said Mark Breeden, president of Trident Funding.

Inventory levels also made a significant comeback last year, as listings were just 4.5% below 2019, driven by new boats coming to market.

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