Boats are scarce due to delivery delays and rising prices



  • Boat prices have increased 10% this year as demand increases.
  • Demand increased during the pandemic as boats were seen as a safe way to spend time outdoors.
  • The same problems in the shipping industry are to blame for shortages of other products like lumber and furniture.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Boats are increasingly expensive and harder to find in the United States, from small ships to large yachts.

Boat prices are on the rise and customers are waiting months longer than expected for their purchases. In Michigan, which is a hub for boaters due to the surrounding Great Lakes, a dealership is posting signs warning potential customers to “Buy Now Before They Go.” WXYZ Detroit reported.

The state’s largest pontoon dealership has only one new pontoon for sale, and the sales manager has spoken to WXYZ of “running out of stock”. The dealership also promotes trade-ins and “cash for boats,” akin to the ongoing used car race that has raised prices at the fastest rates on record. Boat prices have increased by around 10% over the past year, the sales manager said.

For customers looking to buy new, wait times start at three to six months, or even longer for specialized or unusual orders.

Even the rich are not immune to shortages as yachts in particular become more difficult to find. “People just don’t put their boats up for sale,” Charles Cbbishley of RCR Yachts told Rochester First. He says buyers of new boats are on waiting lists until 2023.

Like many shortages going on right now, a few causes have converged to make buying boats difficult. Boating experienced an increase in demand at the start of the pandemic which has continued since, The New York Times reported. In 2020, people increasingly spent their money on socially distant activities that felt safe, like furniture upgrades and even new homes. Boats are also a way for people to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with their families without interacting too closely with strangers.

Along with the new demand, boaters faced the same supply chain disruptions that shocked the rest of the global market. As Rachel Premack explained to Insider, some factories closed early in the pandemic, slowing production of almost everything. Then came a shortage of shipping containers, making logistics even more complicated. Port congestion and storms in Texas earlier this year only made matters worse.

Getting a boat is difficult, and keeping it in good condition is no easier. Parts for maintenance and repairs are impacted by the same shortages as the boats themselves.

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