COVID Sinks Boat Show, But Continues To Fuel Boat Sales

Are you looking to get in the water in 2021? Better to hurry.

WAYZATA, Minn. – The Minneapolis Convention Center is expected to be in full swing this week, with hundreds of boats on display for the Minneapolis Boat Show.

But the global pandemic continues to fuel an increase in boat sales that is leaving inventory at local dealerships well below traditional mid-winter levels.

“Normally we would have 25, 26 boats at the boat show,” said Curt Schwieso, nautical consultant at Wayzata Marine. “Now we have 17 in the showroom and that’s what we have for sale right now. “

What started in 2020 – when COVID-19 restrictions send families scrambling for alternative activities – appears to continue into 2021.

Rob Alvarado of Wayzata Marine says he strives not to sound high pressure, but customers need to understand that waiting to buy can mean no boat for the summer.

“If you ordered one, it would probably be in October, September,” Alvarado advised over the phone to a potential buyer.

The nautical consultant said buyers were picking up inventory without seeing it.

“In one year, I have sold more boats over the phone than in 13 years of working here,” said Alvarado.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association estimates boat sales in 2020 are up 12% from 2019 – with sales stronger than ever since the Great Recession.

The increase would likely have been larger had boat builders not been forced to idle factories for several weeks at the start of the pandemic.

Marit and Sean Woulfe had planned to buy a boat at the Minneapolis Boat Show, but after the cancellation they were instead arrested by Wayzata Marine.

In the showroom, they found a 21-foot Chaparral that matched their needs and jumped on the same day.

“Just with all the pandemic, we wanted something more to enjoy, you know,” said Marit, hugging the couple’s baby Henryks.

The demand is just as high for used boats. As of Monday, Wayzata Marine only had four used boats in its inventory, and one of those sold that day.

Schwieso gave this advice: “If you want to be on the water when the ice breaks off, which most people do, you have to act today, if not yesterday.

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