Boat sales, rentals through the roof heading into the summer

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Jeff Bezos isn’t the only one spending big on a new boat. 

Boat sales and rentals spiked in 2020 as Americans searched for pandemic-friendly summer activities, and it doesn’t look like interest has fallen off yet this year. 

Charity Garey, co-owner of Lakeshore Marina in Chattanooga, Tennessee, told WRCB-TV that they’ve been completely booked with boat renters all weekend.

“All the dealerships are sold out of boats, there’s not many left,” Garey told the outlet. “If you can get one, buy one.”

The National Marine Manufacturers Association says powerboat sales hit a 13-year high in 2020, with 310,000 new vessels sold, up 12 percent from the previous year. Sales have waned slightly this year, but remain higher than pre-pandemic levels, the NMMA said.

As of February, shipments of new powerboats were up 23 percent compared with the 2020 average, and up 9 percent compared with the 2019 average. Pontoon boats, wake sport boats and jet boats were among the most popular types sold in February.

With demand surging for new boats, manufacturers can’t keep up. NMMA’s senior director of business intelligence Vicky Yu said, “boats are being sold as soon as they hit the marketplace as manufacturers work to fulfill the backlog of orders.”

“Boatbuilders continue facing supply-side constraints, and the challenge ahead will be keeping leads evergreen as inventories get replenished and life returns to normal,” she said. 

With inventory constrained, Americans are increasingly turning to rentals, according to data from marine rental platform GetMyBoat. 

GetMyBoat sent 178,000 renters out in 2019, up from 60,500 the previous year, Bloomberg News reported. The start-up expects to hit more than 1 million rentals this year, Bloomberg reported. 

“I’ve been in this business 20 years, and I’ve never seen the boat market, in the last 18 months, do what it’s doing,” Bret Uptagraft, sales manager of SkipperBud’s in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, told FOX11 News.

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