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Boating Boom Led by First-Timers

Experts say demand for boats was driven by the pandemic and the need for social distancing.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

First-time buyers continue to propel sales for boats and marine products, according to Fox Business Network. U.S. sales accelerated to a 13-year high year-over-year, rising 9% to $47 billion.

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As the peak season gets underway, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) says new boats are selling as soon as they come into dealers.

NMMA President Frank Hugelmeyer says many Americans are rethinking their lifestyles:

"As the country returns to a new normal, people are reassessing how they spend their quality time with loved ones, and many are continuing to choose boating as the preferred choice in recreation. All signs point to boating demand and boat sales remaining strong as more people discover the mental health benefits, joys and freedoms of being outside and on the water."

Sales this year are already up another 30%.

The number of first time boat buyers reached 415,000 in 2020, according to NMMA data. The buyers, who are 1.5 times more likely to be female than other groups, are also younger on average. And they're buying new and pre-owned vessels.

John Adey, president of the American Boat and Yacht Council says prices are on the rise:

"Inventories continue to be at an all time low, with customers waiting weeks to get the boat they want. Used boats are also fetching a premium."

The longer wait times are also due to supply chain backlogs and a shortage of parts.

Still, 94% of the new boaters plan to stay the course and continue boating in the future.

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