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First-Time Boat Buyers Surpass 400K Again

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association and Info-Link Technologies said 420,000 first-time boat buyers made purchases in 2021, according to the organizations’ annual survey.

Last year’s total, approximately equal to the 2020 total, maintains annual levels not seen since 2007, before the Great Recession, NMMA said in a statement yesterday. The tally includes first-time buyers of new and preowned boats.

Last year was the second in a row in which first-time boat buyers surpassed 415,000, said Jack Ellis, managing director of Info-Link Technologies, a boating market intelligence firm.

“Maintaining this momentum is especially important given potential headwinds, including competition for consumer spending in the leisure market, inflation on everything from gas and groceries to furniture and apparel, continued supply-chain disruptions, and the war in Ukraine,” said Ellen Bradley, NMMA senior vice president of marketing and communications.

“The industry should be thinking strategically about how to manage through these impacts while reinforcing efforts to retain new boat owners, engage long-time customers and attract the next generation,” she said.

First-time buyers accounted for 34 percent of boat sales in 2021, the survey found. Ellis said some momentum continues into the current year.

“We expect the trajectory of first-time boat buyers to soften as boat sales begin to normalize following a record couple of years,” Ellis said. “However, 2022 should see healthy levels of new boat owners enter the market as manufacturers work to refill the pipeline and fulfill the backlog of new orders.”

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