Staycation boat sales boom for UK shipping industry

A surge in boat sales due to COVID-19 restrictions on overseas travel has led many brokers in the UK to struggle to find inventory

COVID-19 restrictions on overseas travel have led to a marked increase in sales of used and new boats in the UK, with many brokers struggling to find inventory to meet demand.

SE Yachts, which are agents of Najad and Arcona Yachts, reports a 50% increase in sales over the past 12 months.

Berthon International called the sales growth “extraordinary”.

British Marine figures show that in 2020 new and used boat sales rose 9%, a reversal of the 8% drop in boat sales seen in 2019 due to slower global economic growth and national.

Initially, there was a 40% drop in sales during the UK’s first nationwide lockdown between March and May 2020, but this rebounded quickly in the summer, with boat sales between June and the end of December 2020 increasing by more than 50% compared to the same period in 2019.

Participation in RYA trainings has increased in line with the increase in boat sales. Credit: David Harding

SE Yachts co-manager Alasdair Marshall said the boats continued to sell very well.

“Over the past 12 months there have been so few brokerage boats on the market that it has led to more new boat sales for us. We saw a 50% increase with the Arcona 435, 385 and 345 selling very well.

“The industry is dynamic and it is a success, and this success has allowed many families who work hard in the industry to continue. “

Marshall said it was “better not to try to predict” whether the boom in boat buying would continue, adding that brokers were used to increased sales followed by a market downturn.

Berthon International, which has offices in Lymington, France, Scandinavia, Spain and the United States, said the increase in demand for boats has not been limited to the United Kingdom.

General manager Sue Grant said their office in the United States has sold boats and all of their sales teams are on a permanent list of announcements.

She said that while sales of powerboats had been “phenomenal”, there had also been growth in yacht purchases.

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“It was a tough market segment, but all of a sudden people are buying again. It’s extraordinary. When we entered the first foreclosure, we focused on building a new website and completely overhauling our marketing offering as we had no idea what was going to happen to the market at that time. The available technology and the changing circumstances mean that people are now more willing to buy blind and we are now selling yachts to people we have never met or seen.
We have rarely seen such demand, ”said Grant, who added that buyers wanted“ plug and play ”yachts rather than refit projects.

She said she expected the UK boat market to normalize fairly quickly and any downturn would be linked to the business cycle.

The growth in the number of boat owners has also led to an increase in the number of sailors seeking qualifications, with the RYA reporting a sharp increase in land and hands-on courses, in particular RYA Powerboat Level 2 and Day Skipper.

RYA Director of Training and Qualifications Richard Falk said although centers have had to reduce capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, many have reported “they’re busier than ever and that their advance reservations for late summer and early fall are at full capacity.

“This is great news for boating safety and all of the centers that have been limited in their operations throughout the pandemic,” he added.

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