According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, in 2020 the total marine sales hit 49 billion dollars, the highest level in nearly two decades.
“Families needed something to do. An outlet. A lot of times people would be taking big vacations and stuff like that. Well, they realized really quickly that wasn’t going to happen, so they turned to outdoor activities," said Kris Gustafson, owner of the VS Marine in Atascadero.
The Warner family is just one of many families that turned to boat activities as a way to escape and spend time with family
“We were doing it heavily before the pandemic, but I would say our lake trips increased because there was nothing else to do," said Paul Warren, a boat customer of VS Marine.
Data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association shows that about 415,000 Americans became first-time boat buyers in 2020, making the demand harder to keep up with.
“We literally have sold out of boats which is the first in my 50 years in the business that we actually have sold out of product," said Gustafson.
While other industries were negatively affected by COVID-19, boating become one of the most popular pastimes for families.
“Families and memories, you are making on the water you can’t put a price tag on those. That’s a big thing I have noticed with a lot of the new boat buyers. They are realizing that they are investing in these memories," said Shawn Wilson, an employee of VS Marine.
“It is something we see generation after generation. We sold boats to a multitude of generations of the same families. It’s fun to see when I was a kid seeing people my dad sold boats to now selling boats to their grandkids," said Gustafson.
Whether you are first time buyer or a part of a generation of boat buyers, boating has become a way to unite families and create memories throughout this pandemic.
California ranked eighth in the U.S. for total retail expenditures in 2020 and it is expected to keep growing until 2022.