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US boat sales surge as inventory levels are up to 60% below normal


Inventory levels of recreational boats are tracking 20% to 60% below normal ahead of the peak selling season in the US, says the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).

The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 meant that while retail boat sales were the highest since 2008, manufacturers struggled to meet demand. Unprecedented sales of freshwater and saltwater fishing craft, cruisers and jet boats reached double-digit highs in 2020, putting pressure on the supply chain.

“Boat builders are shipping approximately 20,000 new boats monthly and operating at 13% above normal levels to restock anaemic inventories ahead of the peak selling season,” said Vicky Yu, NMMA’s Director of Business Intelligence.

“Continued supply chain disruption and workforce issues, combined with an average order backlog of up to six months, will challenge manufacturers to keep up with new orders through at least 2021. Wholesale shipments of new powerboats are currently outpacing growth in ITR Economics latest forecast by an average of 12%, with an encouraging up-tick in shipments in December,” said Yu.

“We expect production levels to ebb and flow this year as manufacturers work to get back up to speed and supplier deliveries stabilise. A lot will depend on what type of buying activity we see this spring and summer as things start to open up.”

The January 2021 forecast for boat building production from ITR Economics suggests that it will steadily rebound and remain at near 2019 production levels through 2023.

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