Recreational Boating

As Quoted In Boating Business

Hurt by the economic and housing market downturns, the recreational boating industry will rebound by 2016 based on greater disposable incomes and pent-up demand.

Economic downturn decimates boating industry

The recreational boating industry was decimated by the economic and housing market downturns that began in 2007, because boating products are luxury items and the market depends on consumer spending and access to credit. The effects of the slowdown included rising unemployment, sharp declines in house values, and deterioration of the broader financial markets. For the US boating industry, these factors combined to not only reduce consumer spending and the ability of individuals to secure credit for boats, but also meant that many boat dealers and boatbuilders had difficulty funding operations, with the result being a number of bankruptcies among industry suppliers and dealers.

US market to increase 8% annually through 2016

By 2016, the recreational boating market (including boats, propulsion systems, and accessories) is forecast to rebound, with demand increasing 8.0 percent per year to $10.1 billion. The market will be driven by gains in consumer spending and disposable income and the rising strength of the financial sector. The boating industry’s efforts to expand the boating market to women and minorities will also boost sales of entry level boats. Growth in the 55-64 age bracket will support demand, since boat purchases become more likely near the onset of retirement (although they tend to decline shortly thereafter). Despite the rapid sales growth, the market in 2016 will be only about two-thirds of what it was in 2006, and is not expected to recover to the pre-downturn levels for the foreseeable future.

Traditional powerboats to present fastest growth

Demand for traditional powerboats will post the fastest gains, rebounding from especially sharp declines beginning in 2008 as credit conditions made financing expensive boats difficult. This segment will be supported by pent-up demand from consumers who delayed purchases during the downturn, as well as strong demand for larger, more expensive boats. Powerboat demand will also be fueled by technological advances, such as newer propulsion systems and controls that simplify handling.

South to remain largest regional market

The West will see the fastest increases in recreational boating demand of the four US census regions. Growth will be aided by above average gains in the 45 or older population segment and by rapid increases in both regional GDP and consumer spending. The South will also see above average growth in recreational boating product demand and will remain the largest regional market through 2016. In addition to demographic and economic factors driving gains, boating demand in the South will continue to be aided by the region’s mild climate, long warm water coastline, and the popularity of boating and fishing in the region.

Study Scope

This study analyzes the $6.9 billion US recreational boating industry. It presents historical demand data for the years 2001, 2006 and 2011, and forecasts for 2016 and 2021 by material (e.g., plastic, aluminum, coated fabrics), product (e.g., powerboats, personal watercraft, sailboats, propulsion systems, boating accessories) and US regional market.

The study also considers market environment factors, details industry structure, evaluates company market share and profiles 39 industry competitors, including Brunswick, Yamaha Motor and Bombardier Recreational Products.

Back to Top