US recreational boating demand.
US recreational boating demand.

The US recreational boating industry (boats, propulsion systems, and accessories) was decimated by the economic and housing market downturns that began in 2007, notes the Freedonia study Recreational Boating. The industry suffered its worst contraction in nearly 50 years, with a sharp drop in demand each year between 2007 and 2010 and a number of bankruptcies among industry suppliers and dealers.

The market in 2016 will only be about two-thirds of what it was in 2006, and is not expected to recover to the pre-downturn levels for the foreseeable future.
 

In 2011, demand had begun to recover from the depths plumbed in 2010, the study reports, but in the short term, the market is unlikely to bounce back as quickly as it has in past downturns because consumers continue to deleverage and the economic recovery remains tepid. By 2016, the recreational boating market is expected to rebound, with demand increasing 8% annually to $10.1 billion. However, the market in 2016 will only be about two-thirds of what it was in 2006, and is not expected to recover to the pre-downturn levels for the foreseeable future.

Demand for traditional powerboats will see the fastest gains, rebounding from especially sharp declines beginning in 2008 as credit conditions made financing expensive boats difficult.

According to Freedonia, the market will be driven by gains in consumer spending and disposable income and the increasing strength of the financial sector. The boating industry’s efforts to expand the boating market to women and minorities will boost sales of entry level boats. Growth in the 55-64 age bracket will support demand, since boat purchases become more likely near the onset of retirement (although they tend to decline shortly thereafter).

Recreational Boating is available for $5100 from The Freedonia Group Inc, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.