Boat Industry Booming During Pandemic

Owner of Boats Incorporated in Niantic says he has never seen such high demand for boats.

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Boat sales have increased during the pandemic. Owner of Boats Incorporated in Niantic said that he has never seen the demand so high.

“I have been in this business for 30 years. I have never seen it quite this crazy as far as people wanting boats and people wanting to get out on the water," said Don MacKenzie, who owns Boats Inc.

MacKenzie said the craze started in the beginning of the pandemic.

“The industry was discovered. People found a way to escape," said MacKenzie. "They couldn’t go to Florida during that time, couldn’t fly, couldn’t go to restaurants and amusement parks, they still needed to recreate."

Sales at Boats Inc. increased in 2020 and many were sold to first time boaters.

"As much as we have tried to get the 35-45 year-olds into boating, this did it," said MacKenzie.

The Connecticut Marine Trades Association has seen a similar trend statewide.

"Everybody is in the same boat," said Tasha Cusson, chair of the association. "Because of the pandemic, to be able to get out on the water and make memories with their family."

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, more than 320,000 new units were sold last year across the country. That is up 13% from 2019.

MacKenzie says demand is still high, but inventory has dropped.

“We are having a hard time getting product right now," said MacKenzie. “We have boats. We used ones coming in periodically, but inventory is way down all over the state.” 

Slips are also in high demand statewide. All of the spots at Boats Inc. are taken and they have a wait list.

Rick White from Berlin bought a boat there today. He said that he is looking forward to another pandemic summer on the water.

“It’s an outdoor activity, you are fully aware of how careful everyone in your family is," said White. "So it has been nice.”

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