Despite rising fuel prices and economic uncertainty, boat sales remain strong after two years of historic sales.
Local dealers told the Daily News they are still plagued with inventory issues as boats continue to sell out quickly, although there may be a downturn underway.
Jim’s Anchorage sales manager Joe Zanylo said he hadn’t seen such sales in 30 years.
“I’ve never seen things sell the way they did in 2020 and 2021,” Zanylo said. “Our sales are always strong, we are getting new boats and they are selling. We don’t know how long this will last, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Sales have been high since the start of the pandemic. Family vacations were in limbo for the foreseeable future around April 2020. People also started saving money through reduced travel, socializing and government stimulus payments. Some people then decided to invest that money in a boat that would help replace vacation trips.
Since then, local dealers have struggled to keep their showrooms full as sales have remained high and suppliers have struggled. Both manufacturing and shipping have been impacted by the pandemic and resulting labor shortages.
Duane Thomas, sales representative for the Shy Beaver Boat Center, said suppliers are still catching up. Shy Beaver has added the Viaggio line of boats to its list of available boats to try and make up for low inventory.
Zanylo said they started ordering stock at the end of last season to ensure they would be ready for this year.
“We ordered enough product in late summer and early fall for this selling season,” Zanylo said.
He said many customers realized it might take a while for the dream boats to be back in stock and started placing orders instead.
“We have a lot of boats on order, so I think people are realizing there’s no inventory, so more people have moved on to place orders,” Thomas said.
He said their largest segment, even two years into the pandemic, is new boat owners looking for pontoon boats. First-time buyers have been their biggest market since the start of the pandemic.
Although gasoline prices have reached historic highs, this does not appear to be changing. Thomas said those early buyers didn’t seem to show any signs of remorse either.
“We don’t have a surplus of used boats, so I don’t think that’s the case yet,” Thomas said.
Zanylo said he has yet to see any signs of a market slowdown either. Rising interest rates and gasoline prices have spurred interest in older used models, but Zanylo said demand appears to be as high this year as in 2020 and 2021.
“Even though times are tough, people still want to have fun. People may not be running on the lake all day, but they still want to spend some family time on the water,” Zanylo said.
Haldan can be contacted at [email protected]news.com.