How COVID-19 has affected Australian boat sales

Boating in Australia took a big hit in the wake of COVID-19, with many states placing restrictions on recreational boating and fishing. Of course, these measures were necessary, but with restrictions now easing in many states, recreational boating has started to take off again, and so have boat sales.


Here’s what you need to know.


State of play for recreational boating industry

According to Domenic Genua of the Boating Industry of Australia, parts of the marine industry are recovering from the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, which came into effect in March to protect Australians.


However, Genua told that one business reported a loss of approximately 40% of turn over during 2020, as a result of Australian boat shows going on hold over the lockdown period.


“Others are lamenting the lack of quality second-hand stock at all price levels,” he said.

“Others have been bitten a little by the fact that some factories slowed production at the beginning of COVID-19 that is now seeing a shortage of stock to sell.”


Boat sales are up

Despite the stock issues mentioned above, Genua says that overall, anecdotal evidence indicates that sales are tracking ‘very well’ within the boating industry in both Australia, and across international markets.


Genua told that he isn’t sure why this is.


“Why? Who knows,” he said.

“However, some are saying that the inability to travel is pointing people to localised leisure, others are saying that the lack of boat shows has bought forward typical boat show sales to this time of the year.”


Whatever the reason, the industry is, at least anecdotally, reaping the benefits of an increase in demand. But Genua says there are still challenges ahead.


“What will be our challenge is to ensure that the upsurge is converted into ongoing momentum.”


Boating in Victoria during lockdown

Victoria is the state in Australia with the strictest lockdown laws. Steve Walker, the Chief Executive of the Boating Industry Association of Victoria said that despite the effect of lockdown, there were still positive signs.


Walker said that the first lockdown stages were catastrophic for the boating industry, and there was a stage when it seemed the situation could become even worse.


“But they [the boating industry in Victoria] survived that period and the premier opened up recreational activities with the outdoor activities with small groups and social distancing,” he said.

“Firstly things picked up and then they strengthened.”


Walker also said that some parts of the marine industry in Victoria were still doing it tough, and people were waiting to see what would happen once Government funding stopped for individuals impacted by COVID-19.


“But right at the moment, it’s a lot, lot better than we’d feared,” he said.


Luxury boat sales on the rise 

Sales for luxury motor yachts in the United States have spiked drastically in the past months, with many Americans looking to take time off in their own backyard, rather than head overseas.


Data collated by the National Marine Manufacturers Association in the US said there was a 75% increase in luxury boat sales (compared with this time last year, before COVID-19 set in). Jet skis are one of the biggest sellers, with an increase of 75% (since this time last year).


This surge in boat sales in the US is a welcome sign for high-end yacht manufacturers in Australia, such as Queensland based, Riviera and Maritimo. Both boat makers have a big fan base in the US, which is likely to keep their production lines hard at work.


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