Boat sales soar in the Carolinas during the pandemic

CHARLOTTE, NC (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Charlotte’s Mid Atlantic Boat Show is the first sign of boating season in the area since 1973.

“The dealers come out, they bring their whole showroom down here, set up and show you the latest and latest in the industry,” said Les Gray of Southeast Production.

This year, he says, 20 dealers fill the Uptown Convention Center, about five less than before the pandemic.

SouthTown Water Sports, a Charlotte-based boat dealership, saw sales skyrocket shortly after the pandemic.

“At the end of the day, we saw a lot of people swapping vacations for boats and toys, so that really boosted our sales and this year we have to do a lot of build slots instead of physical boats just because that many of our physical invoices are already in demand,” said Stephen Baker.

According to National Marine Manufacturers, sales jumped 9% in 2020 and the trend continued in 2021.

Today, dealers are trying to keep up with demand, while dealing with supply chain issues.

“A lot of computerized components that are really hard to get right now. Challenges in the supply chain were something the dealers had to overcome,” Gray said. “Depending on the models, depending on the colors, depending on what you want in the boat, there may be a waiting period of three or four months.”

Gray said shows like the Mid Atlantic Boat Show have allowed dealers to sell up to 60% of their inventory.

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