Boats are big in the age of COVID; local dealers are dealing with spike in demand

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 7:15 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) -- Boat dealers, both local and national, are seeing a spike in watercraft sales that started in 2020.

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, sales of new powerboats in February 2021 were up 34% compared to the same time period last year.

The NMMA research found that an average of 31,000 new boats have been sold every month since the summer of 2020.

Local boat dealers like Ken Sorely of Marineland Boating Center say they are feeling the impact of the high demand firsthand.

Sorely says the business typically has about 175 watercrafts on hand, but now because of the heightened demand fewer than 20 are in stock.

Researchers believe the spike is a result of people having more free time and seeking out new, safe hobbies during the pandemic.

Many boat manufacturers were also shut down due to the pandemic causing low supply.

“We’re seeing high demand for it but we’re also having a hard time getting our hands on it,” said Blake Ward, owner of Pura Vida Paddle and Kayak in Waco.

“Some of our manufacturers are sold out for up to a year,” he said.

Ward said the paddle and rental business is also booming.

“We’re also seeing demand during the weekday and I think because some students are still doing distance learning they have more flexibility to go out during the weekday that they didn’t when they were doing in class learning,” Ward said.

NMMA says boat sales across the country rose to a 13-year high in 2020 to $47 billion and they’re expected to continue rising through the summer.

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