How COVID-19 Led to a Boat Sales Boom

Boat sales

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many changes, limiting travel, increasing social distance, and encouraging people to pursue new hobbies. For many people, it’s been a difficult time. They’ve lost a job, are suffering from loneliness, or are dealing with COVID-19 infections in their immediate family. But for others, despite the terrible circumstances, this has been an opportunity to explore something new and redefine their life.

Accordingly, we’ve seen a massive uplift in boat sales for 2020. 

The Boat Sales Boom

Back in March, when the pandemic was just starting, boat dealers began to panic. Lockdowns were in full effect, and people were scared to go out; people were less interested in doing anything outside the house, and sales dropped. But by late April, the mood changed. People were beginning to realise that this was a long-term change and were interested in finding new hobbies (and/or going about their daily lives as much as possible). 

Throughout the summer, this trend continued, and people are still interested in buying boats more than they were, say, a year ago.

On TheYachtMarket.com, we saw this trend reflected by a massive increase in the number of boat buyers visiting our website and making enquiries to our customers – our boat brokers and private sellers.

Boat marketplace websites have a normal seasonality to them with peak numbers of people visiting in the spring and summer months, dropping off a little in the autumn and winter. Even so, the extra interest has kept TheYachtMarket.com’s website visitors and enquiry levels much higher than normal even at this time of year. The number of boat buyers visiting our website was 72% higher in October 2020 than in October 2019. October 2020 even beats the peak summer month of 2019 by 32%. The number of sales enquiries generated for our customers via our website shows the same trend with October 2020 being 65% higher than in the previous year. And these trends are continuing into November unabated.

Factors for the Boat Sales Increase

Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest root cause for this boom in boat sales, but what factors, specifically, led to the rise in sales? 

There are a number of possible explanations, including:

  • The call for social distancing. One of the most commonly cited (and used) strategies to minimise the spread of the virus has been social distancing – the practice of keeping yourself at least two metres away from other people at all times. This has led people to deliberately seek out hobbies that allow them to stay far away from others, and boating fits this category perfectly. Depending on your practice, boating allows you to stay far more than two metres from other people – in fact, you might be hundreds of metres away from others when you’re in the middle of the open water.

  • Enjoying the great outdoors. Throughout spring and summer, the general public was encouraged to go outside for recreational activities. Being outside allows water droplets to disperse more freely, and naturally encourages people to be more distant, keeping the spread of the coronavirus at bay. Going outside is also good for your health, helping you absorb sunlight to produce vitamin D, giving you access to fresh air, and providing you an opportunity to exercise. Again, boating fits in perfectly here, providing the escape people needed to enjoy the great outdoors.

  • Spending time with the family. Due to quarantine, millions of people got the chance to spend more time with their families. Children were being kept home from school, and parents were forced to work from home. This was a difficult transition for many families, but it also afforded more opportunities to spend quality time together. Leaning into this trend, many families sought some kind of activity that the family could partake in together – and boating fit the mould for millions of people.

  • Time to explore a new hobby. For better or for worse, COVID-19 has given many of us more free time. We’re spending fewer hours working, either because of job cuts or because we no longer have to commute. We have fewer responsibilities that require us to leave the house. And many of us have been forced to eliminate or minimise our participation in certain hobbies. That means you have extra time to funnel into a new, exciting hobby – like boating.

  • Staycations and other homebound leisure activities. Every year, millions of families try to plan a vacation to take a break from work and school and unwind. But due to travel restrictions and health concerns, most of these families were forced to look for vacation-like activities that allowed them to stay close to home. Going on a boating adventure is the perfect solution, allowing you to discover new scenery without taking any unnecessary risks.

  • Time to research. All that extra free time is also helpful for the research phase, which is necessary if you want to buy the right boat. People interested in boating have had plenty of time to research the vessels they want online – and possibly find them for sale with an online platform.

  • Fads and social trends. It’s also worth noting that there could be a social influence effect encouraging further boat sales. If your friends and neighbours are all buying boats, you may be tempted to get in on the action.

  • Stimulus cheque. Most Americans and many British people received a stimulus cheque as a form of economic relief, and further stimulus packages may be in store in the future. In some cases, this extra money served as the perfect down-payment for a boat, and likely encouraged a significant number of purchases.

  • Minimal interest rates. Interest rates are still hovering near all-time lows, meaning it’s easier than ever to get a low interest loan for your boat purchase.

How to Take Advantage of the Boat Sales Increase

If you’re interested in taking advantage of this powerful trend, there are a couple of things you can do. If you’re a buyer, now may be one of the best times to buy a boat; dealers are interested in leaning into this trend, and the market is hot. No matter where you look, you’ll find a wide range of different options at affordable prices, and you should be able to get financing without an issue. 

If you’re a prospective seller, you should know that demand is skyrocketing – and this could be the best possible time to get a good price on your vessel. If you do, consider selling your boat on an online platform, so you can appeal to the widest range of prospective customers.

As a boat seller, coming into the winter months (in the northern hemisphere at least), one might be tempted to pause advertising of your boat listings until the start of next season, but this would be a mistake. For many boat buyers, the buying cycle is fairly long, involving research and decision-making on the buyer’s part as to exactly what type of boat best suits their needs, which brokers / private sellers are offering the best price, shortlisting their selection, and getting any finance required lined up ready for buying a boat at the start of next season. So, when selling boats, it’s essential to keep your boat listings in front of the buyers during this period, or risk missing out to your competitors when the next season begins.

Likewise, with various countries going into short-term local or national lockdowns, it’s important to keep your marketing going so you come out of lockdown with a full list of viewing appointments to capitalize on.

As making plans for taking holidays abroad still carries much uncertainty, it is highly likely that many who did not get around to buying a boat this season will buy one next season. So it seems logical to expect next season to bring a second boat sales boom.

With the effect of the pandemic on the global boating market as a whole, it is easy to forget the work that our team has put in to develop TheYachtMarket.com service during these odd times. We’ve invested heavily in improving our positioning in search engines; we’ve enabled virtual tours to help when in-person viewings are restricted; we’ve developed a Live Chat system to get more buyers to you and we’ve created German and Spanish websites to help your boat listings reach a wider audience. We’ll also soon be launching the French website as an early Christmas present!

We are here to help our customers succeed during this pandemic and come out the other side strong.

With TheYachtMarket, you can list used boats for sale anywhere across the globe for your brokerage or as a private seller. Or browse our boats for sale to find the perfect boat for your needs.

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