Boating Market Report: Sustained Buyer Demand for Smaller Boats

by | Feb 8, 2024 | Boats Group, News

  • Complete three-year global market analysis
  • Market has reached full normalization
  • Sustained buyer demand for smaller boats
  • New financial and sales data

While boating continues to enjoy the growth in popularity it saw take off during the pandemic, the boating market has continued to normalize during 2023. External factors such as rising interest rates, high inflation, and loan accessibility continue to impact sales – but the outlook for 2024 is hopeful.

After several years of declining YoY boat sales following the pandemic-driven surge, sales in 2023 showed slightly more sales than the previous year – with 0.86% more boats sold YoY globally. The primary driver was the new boat market, with a 16.8% increase over 2022 as manufacturers caught up from the supply constraints felt throughout the pandemic Used boat sales, by contrast, were down 2.2%.

While new boat sales are up, they are taking longer to sell (41 days longer than the previous year), while the time spent on the market for used boats remains flat to last year. That being said, used boats that are only a year old are taking significantly longer to sell – on average, 66 days longer globally. This is likely due to increased new boat inventory on the market, motivating buyers to buy new versus pre-owned, which tends to offer better financing rates and warranties.

2021-2023 Boating Market Highlights

The overall value of boats sold dropped just below 2022 levels, down by -1.4% globally, with a marked difference between new and used boat markets. The total value of new boats sold was up 27.6% compared to 2022, at just under $1.5 billion, while the value of used boats declined by -5.6% YoY, representing over $7 billion of the total market. The average vessel price was comparable to 2022, slightly declining to just over $204,000.

The data from, which is reported by brokers and dealers across the globe, show that the primary market driver for global unit sales in 2023 continues to be boats in the less than 35-foot segment, indicating sustained demand for budget-friendly boats. However, the average sold price of smaller boats is also dropping, likely driven by increased supply and normalized demand, pushing the average sold price down.

While average boat prices are starting to flatten, multiple factors indicate consumer demand continues to normalize globally – perhaps spooked by high-interest loans despite increased affordability. In 2023, the total volume of searches for “boats for sale” continued to fall slightly, illustrating this softening of buyer demand.

As the industry continues to navigate global economic headwinds and the changing waters of consumer interest, we expect to see sustained demand for more affordable boating options in 2024.

The 2023 Annual Market Index from Boats Group includes a market analysis of boats sold by length group, location, power versus sail, and more.