U.S. Recreational Boating Market Analysis

U.S. recreational boating market to register significant gains from outboard boat sales over 2018-2024, rising popularity of water sports to augment the regional industry growth

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Luxury boating, being one of the most popular leisure activities in the United States, has led to the U.S. recreational boating market emerging as a highly profitable industry. In 2018, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) announced boat sales in the U.S.to have reached a 10-year high, encouraging boat manufacturers to further expand their production capacity to meet the rising demand. NMMA data shows that unit sales of new powerboats reached 262,000 in 2017 increasing 5% when compared to unit sales in 2016.

U.S. Recreational Boating Market, By Product, 2017 & 2024, (Units)

U.S. Recreational Boating Market, By Product, 2017 & 2024, (Units)

Incidentally this is the highest level of boat sales registered in the U.S. in the past 10 years – a fact that provided a boost to the U.S. recreational boating industry. As per estimates, total marine expenditure in 2017 amounted to $39 billion which included spending on not only new boats, but trailers, engines, services and accessories. Boat manufacturers also responded to the demand with the building of new plants and expanding production capacity. In 2017 the U.S. recreational boating market size was valued at $20.5 billion and is expected to depict a commendable upsurge in the years ahead.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis boasts of valid data to support the growth of the U.S. manufacturing industry. Estimates by the organization claim that U.S. manufacturing gross output increased to $6.228 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017. The strong economy of the country is indeed bolstering the boating expenditure and new boat sales in the country as manufacturer optimism and capital spending continues to hit a record high. The growth trajectory of the U.S. recreational boating market is expected to be rather exponential in the ensuing years, as new products ranging from small fishing boats to large luxury yachts make an entry into this business sphere.

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Statistics indicate that over 87 million adults participate in recreational boating in the U.S. and engage in travelling by boat, sports activities or fishing. When the country was in the grip of a major economic crisis in the last decade, the U.S. recreational boating industry initially took a hard hit. However, with the return of financial stability, the U.S. recreational boating market has witnessed renewed vigor with 12 million boats being registered and documented in 2017 across the country. The NMMA listed Florida as the state leading the number of registrations in 2017 followed by Minnesota, Michigan, California and Wisconsin with significant growth in the registration of recreational boats in the states of Oregon, Ohio and California. Unsurprisingly the Great Lakes region also accounted for a major portion of the registrations with most boats per capita.

Incidentally, outboard boats are the most preferred boats and are anticipated to account for 70% of the U.S. recreational boating market share by 2024, since they are easy to maintain, have maximum cabin space and increased fuel efficiency. Surveys depict that most affluent Americans own such leisure boats – around 10.3% of U.S. households with an income over $200,000 reported owning a boat in 2015. Personal water boats are popular among water sports enthusiasts in the U.S. and during a survey of campers in 2015, it was found that 22% indicated canoeing or kayaking to be their favorite recreation activity and a further 13% selected either motor boating, jet skiing or water sports. Easier maneuverability, compact footprint, and easier parking & towing are expected to augment the personal water boat segment of the U.S. recreational boating market. As per estimates, PWC will account for 11% of the U.S. recreational boating market share by 2024.

The U.S. recreational boating market took a sharp decline when the country went into a recession in 2008 with consumers having less disposable income to be spent on leisure activities. More recently the Trump administration’s implementation of tariffs has put a dampener on the U.S. recreational boating industry, though between 2012 and 2016, the market experienced a gradual upsurge. U.S. recreational boating market which supports approximately 650,000 jobs and 35,000 businesses nationwide, is touted to be one of the stalwarts of the American manufacturing sector. With the government of the country emphasizing on the importance of manufacturing and export, the U.S. recreational boating market is expected to register a CAGR of 4.5% over 2018-2024.

Author NameParoma Bhattacharya