When Will the Boat Shortage End?

Boat shortage

Thanks to a combination of significantly increased demand and supply chain limitations, there's currently a boat shortage. If you've tried to buy a boat in the last few years, you might have experienced it for yourself. But when is this boat shortage going to end? And how can you deal with it in the meantime?

Root Causes for the Boat Shortage

Before we can speculate about whether or not the boat shortage will end, we need to understand the root causes for the boat shortage.

As you might suspect, there's no single issue or variable responsible for this shortage. Instead, there's a combination of factors in play:

  • Supply chain and raw material issues. Every industry is dealing with supply chain issues as a result of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and other economic factors. Manufacturers haven't been able to operate at full capacity and shipping has been significantly slowed down. A shortage of even one basic raw material can lead to a devastating “butterfly effect,” indirectly causing shortages of many different products. And without the core necessary products to construct a boat, boats aren't able to be produced.
  • Sharply increased demand. The problem is complicated by the fact that there's been significantly increased demand for boats. It's hard to tell exactly where this momentum came from; some people became interested in boating because they needed a hobby that allowed them to be outside and away from other people. Others may have been persuaded to buy a vessel because of how amazing most modern boats are. Whatever the case, dealers became trapped between shrinking supply and rising demand, ultimately resulting in a major shortage.
  • Crew and employee shortages. It also doesn’t help that there’s a shortage of available employees. Manufacturers, dealers, distributors, and other institutions involved in buying and selling boats can't hire enough people to operate efficiently. Additionally, buyers of mega yachts are having trouble finding enough crew members to keep their vessels operational.
  • Shortage-inspired rushes. There's also a chance that the shortage was exacerbated by public knowledge of the shortage. The effect goes something like this; media outlets report about a boat shortage, so thousands of people who were on the fence about buying a boat rush out to buy one before they’re all gone. This, in turn, makes the shortage even worse, resulting in an even bigger feedback loop the next time the media reports on the shortage.

Hope for a Surge in Supply?

We are seeing some early signs that the boat shortage is abating. One of the biggest raw material shortages in the industry was a foam shortage, which made it functionally impossible for boat manufacturers to install seating in their new vessels. While supply lines aren’t back to where they used to be, foam and other material supplies are more abundant than they were during peak scarcity.

It’s also important to consider that the increased number of people buying new vessels in the past couple of years has led to an increase in the number of vessels. As portions of the boating population lose interest and sell their boats – or sell their boats in search of an upgrade – the used market is likely to see a boom.

Of course, this doesn't mean we're completely out of the woods. Economists are concerned about the possibility of a recession, supply chain issues persist, and it's hard to tell where the source of the next disruption could come from. If there's another spike in demand, or if there’s another new variable restricting supply, we might end up back in shortage territory.

We simply don't know for sure.

What You Can Do in the Meantime

If you're lucky, the increased supply of yachts and other boats should provide you with the vessel you want. But if the boat shortage continues, or if you're unable to find a convenient vessel, there are several steps you can take in the meantime:

  • Consider buying used. Manufacturers may be struggling to turn out enough new vessels to meet consumer demand, but there are still plenty of vessels in active circulation. Often, used vessels are just as good as their new counterparts, so it's in your best interest to consider buying used. This is especially true if you're willing to put in the work to fix up an old boat that needs attention.
  • Shop around. Regardless of whether or not you want to buy used, you should shop around. Online and in person, there are thousands of boat dealers who can help you find the perfect vessel for your needs. Sooner or later, you're bound to find a good fit.
  • Extend your budget. The shortage doesn't necessarily mean there are no boats available to buy; it just means there are fewer options, and those options are more expensive. If you're in a hurry to buy a boat, you might want to consider extending your budget and buying a more expensive option.
  • Rent temporarily. Alternatively, if you want access to a boat as soon as possible, you can consider renting one temporarily. Renting a boat is relatively cheap, and it can give you a very similar experience to owning a boat. Plus, this gives you an opportunity to try out many different types of boats to see which one fits your needs best.
  • Partner up. If there's someone you trust who's also interested in boating, consider partnering up with them and buying a boat together. By pooling your assets, you can invest in a bigger vessel, and if you split up the work of boat hunting, you’ll be more likely to find a vessel in stock.

Despite the boat shortage affecting dealers and boat enthusiasts all over the world, TheYachtMarket still has one of the biggest selections of boats for sale on the web. If you’re in the market for a new boat, check out our massive selection! And if you have a boat you’re ready to sell, find out how you can list your boat for sale in minutes!

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