US Boat Sales Rose in Covid. Now Rates Are Hurting Them

(Bloomberg) -- US boat sales — which soared during the pandemic — are estimated to reach a decade low this year, another victim of higher interest rates.

Americans who were cooped up in their homes and had money to burn spent it in a boat-buying spree in 2020 and 2021. But after an extended period of rampant inflation and burdensome borrowing costs, sales have sunk back to the lowest level since 2013, and salespeople who could ink six-figure deals by barely lifting a finger are having to cajole customers again.

Michael Prince Jr., who sells $70,000 pontoons and fishing boats from metro Atlanta’s Lake Lanier area, still has a few 2023 models on his lot. Over the last couple of years, he would’ve already sold off his current-year models by now.

“I don’t think interest rates have killed this industry yet, but if they go up more, they could,” said Prince, managing partner of boat dealer Grass Shack. Still, he remains upbeat. “It’s just coming off such a high that it feels like an incredible downturn.”