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Market Reports

Q3 Market Report [Yacht Sales Analysis]

Sarah Nadler | November 22, 2022

The State of Yachting – Looking Back at Q3 2022

As is Denison tradition, it’s time to look back at how the yachting industry performed during the third quarter of 2022. With uncertain economic conditions, supply chain constraints, and an overall reduction in global trade, Q3 has been a challenging quarter for the boating sector. Nevertheless, taking pre-pandemic numbers as a baseline, the industry demonstrated remarkable resilience.

Globally, customers bought 10% fewer boats than they purchased in the third quarter of 2021, a 30% drop from the record sales of the third quarter of 2020. However, overall numbers were just 9% below Q3 2019, indicating that the challenges the market has faced this year have yet to do much damage to demand. Therefore, it is not surprising that the National Marine Manufacturers Association maintains that 2022 is on track to be a very healthy year for the boating industry.

Global Yacht Market Performance in Q3 2022

Following a lackluster Q2, Q3 was a tumultuous quarter for the global boating market. Sales across all the major yacht markets dropped considerably from Q3 2021. North America, the world’s largest boat market, recorded 9.5% lower sales than in the same quarter last year.

The below chart demonstrates this, showing third-quarter sales in North America in the last seven years.

2022 Global Regional Boating Industry Sales Q3 in North America

In Europe, customers bought 11% fewer boats in the usual yachting hotbeds of France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands than in Q3 2021.

The chart below displays third-quarter sales in Europe for the past seven years.

2022 Global Regional Boating Industry Sales Q3 in Europe

The numbers were even bleaker in Asia, which saw a 19% drop in purchases from Q3 2021. Customers in China, Japan, and Singapore bought fewer boats in Q3 2022 than in any third quarter since 2015.

The following chart illustrates third-quarter sales in Asia since 2016.

2022 Global Regional Boating Industry Sales Q3 in Asia

The silver lining in all of this is that the industry’s performance was still strong, given the challenges it faced in the third quarter of this year. Despite pressures from inflation, persistent supply chain challenges, and an active 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, sales across some key boating destinations, including the U.S. Southeast region, remained on par with pre-pandemic numbers.

Q3 2022 Sales in the U.S.

In North America, the Southeast, Gulf Coast, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic regions remained the most dominant yacht markets for the third consecutive Q3. Collectively, sales in these markets dropped by 10% from the third quarter of 2021, but still made up more than 70% of the total sales in the U.S.

2022 Boating Industry Sales Q3 by US Region

Understandably, southern regions demonstrated greater resilience than the northern coastal markets because of an influx of boat lovers to the south for the summer. For instance, sales in the Northeast were 14% lower than in Q3 2021, while sales in the Southeast only dropped by 5%. Such a slight decline in the world’s largest boating market indicates the industry’s strength amid recent challenges.

Continuing its stellar growth rate after COVID-19, the Great Lakes was the only region with higher sales in the third quarter of 2022 than in the same period in 2021. Boat sales in the market accounted for 12% of the total U.S. sales, up from 9% in Q3 2021.

Q3 2022 Sales by Category

Sales of the top five boat categories in the U.S. – center consoles, motoryachts, sportfish, trawlers, and day sailboats – were, on average, 8% lower than in the third quarter of 2021. However, some categories performed much better than others.

Center consoles were the best-selling boats for the second Q3 in a row. They accounted for 42% of all boat sales in the U.S., up from 36% in the third quarter of 2021. Out of the top three categories, center consoles were the only boat type that recorded higher sales during the quarter than in the same period last year.

Comparatively, 5% more center console boats were sold in Q3 2022 than in Q3 2021, while sales of the number-two category, motoryachts, dropped by 32%. This shift can be partially attributed to a more cautious boat market, with some would-be motoryacht customers choosing smaller, more affordable options or waiting for more favorable economic times.

Having enjoyed commendable success during the 2020 boating boom, sportfish sales tumbled back to pre-pandemic levels, recording a 14% drop from Q3 2021. Trawler sales remained the same as last Q3, while day sailboat sales were down by 20%.

Strong Performance of Luxury Yacht Charters in Q3 2022

While new boat sales struggled to maintain the momentum of the last two years, yacht charters continued to boom in Q3 2022. Thanks to the economic uncertainty, many potential customers postponed their purchase decisions, opting instead for short-term rental options. More boat owners also put their vessels up for charter to offset the cost of ownership and earn additional income.

Chartering appeals to customers because it allows them to “test drive” a luxury lifestyle before making a multimillion-dollar purchase. Leading yacht brokers also provide comprehensive itineraries and services, so customers can relax and enjoy their vacation without worrying about logistics.

So far, market reports indicate that luxury yacht charters have increased by 20% in 2022 compared to 2021. Denison expects the number of people chartering yachts to grow in Q4 and beyond, driven by continued interest from first-time charterers and experienced boaters alike.

What Does Q4 2022 Have in Store for Yachting?

Fortunately, all signs still point to a bright future for the boating industry. For instance, growth in the U.S. Southeast region and solid performance in the center console boat category indicates that the demand for recreational boating is still high.

Furthermore, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation activities have thrived since the lockdowns eased in 2021. This year, boating and fishing have increased their contribution to the outdoor recreation economy by 22%, indicating sustained interest in water-based activities from 2021.

Going into the fourth quarter of the year, Denison expects performance to mirror pre-pandemic levels for another quarter. Considering the challenges the industry has faced this year, being able to sustain pre-pandemic numbers gives us hope for more robust performance in 2023 and beyond.

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