As data continues to pour in from 2020, it is increasingly clear that the coronavirus pandemic has affected the American economy and culture in various ways.
Among the sectors which recovered last year: boating.
The trend has been seen both nationally and in Wisconsin, according to statistics released Jan. 15 by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, a trade group for manufacturers of boats, engines and marine accessories.
About 310,000 new powerboats were sold in the United States last year, a 12% increase from 2019, according to the NMMA. Unit sales were the highest since before the Great Recession of 2008.
And in Wisconsin, boat sales rose 9% in 2020, according to the association.
Boat registrations in Wisconsin last year rose 2% to 621,114, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The increases correspond to greater documented participation in 2020 in many forms of outdoor recreation. For example, Wisconsin sold 1.27 million fishing licenses last year, an 11% increase from 2019.
Americans have turned to the outdoors, including water, for healthy, physically remote activities during the COVID-19 crisis.
“2020 has been an extraordinary year for new powerboat sales as more Americans have taken to the water to escape pandemic stress and enjoy the outdoors safely,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, President of NMMA.
Data shows first-time boat buyers increased in 2020 for the first time in more than a decade.
The main category of sales in the United States in 2020 was freshwater fishing boats and pontoon boats, with 143,000 units sold, a 12% increase year-over-year. Boats are valued for their versatility and generally more affordable.
Sales of personal watercraft, including Jet Ski, Sea Doo and WaveRunner, increased 8% to 82,000 units. And wake boats, used for wakesurfing, skiing and wakeboarding and attractive to new and active boaters, saw sales of 13,000 in 2020, up 20%.
Data from Wisconsin shows the same segments also saw sales growth in 2020, adding to the 9% year-over-year increase.
Boating has an annual economic impact of $ 4 billion in Wisconsin, including manufacturing, sales and services, boating operations and tax revenue, according to the NMMA.
Wisconsin ranked eighth among states in 2019 (2020 data is not yet available) in total boating spending with $ 792 million spent on new powerboats, outboards, trailers spare boat and marine accessories.
The substantial increase in boat sales in 2020 was achieved despite supply chain constraints from the pandemic that held back powerboat production and shipments for several months.
The industry has good prospects for the coming year.
Boat sales are expected to remain at historic levels in 2021, according to an NMMA report, as manufacturers continue to fill a backlog of orders from 2020.
Additionally, industry executives expect social distancing protocols to continue through the final months of 2021, sparking additional interest in safe outdoor recreation activities such as boating.
“We expect consumer interest in boating to remain strong through 2021 and beyond, with millions of Americans discovering the mental health benefits and joys of being at it. outdoors and on the water, ”Hugelmeyer said.
Milwaukee Boat Show
This is the time of year when thousands of potential boat buyers traditionally search for new boats at the Milwaukee Boat Show, the largest such show in the state.
But the event is not taking place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the unavailability of the Wisconsin State Fair Park Exposition Center, which is being used as a COVID-19 alternative care facility.
The organizers have set his return for January 21-23 and January 26-30, 2022.