Published on: 04 August 2022
Latest insight into consumer boating habits – Brits flock to UK waters
British Marine has issued the latest Boating and Boat Ownership survey providing members with key market data, trends and insights on participation in watersports in the UK, and the purchasing and ownership of boats, watersports craft and related equipment and services.
Sponsored by Navigators & General, the survey focuses on a number of key areas including watersports participation trends, attitudes to and resources used for training; the characteristics of different methods of participation, from hire and charter to private boat ownership; and boat purchasing and ownership trends, including the profiles of current and prospective owners. This latest report, for the period 2020-2021, also investigates the impact of COVID-19 on watersports activity and ownership.
Some of the key finding from the report include:
- COVID-19 had a profound effect on the UK’s relationship with the outdoors with visits to ‘blue spaces’ (canals, rivers, lakes and the coast) increasing in popularity, from an 18% pre-pandemic to 49% in 2021.
- Nearly a quarter (24%) of participants who took part in 2020 did so for the first time. This trend was particularly pronounced in ‘gateway’ boating activities like paddleboarding and kayaking, with nearly a third of respondents (31% and 28%, respectively) starting within the last 12 months.
- Approximately 58% of participants took part in an activity using their own craft, with other forms of third-party rental experiences accounting for most other experiences.
- Structured training (e.g. sailing schools) accounted for about 8% of experiences on the water and hire, charter and other forms of rental (e.g. peer-to-peer and subscription clubs) made up a third (34%) of excursions undertaken by participants.
- Holiday-based hire or charter dominated rental experiences, with coastal and offshore yacht charter accounting for over half (52%) of experiences and inland hire –mainly on the canal network, Thames and Norfolk Broads –accepting a third of participants.
- The influx of new boaters also had a knock-on effect on boat sales, with sales estimated to have increased by 9% in 2020 and then a further 2% in 2021, with first-time buyers favouring paddleboards (58%), canoes or kayaks (36%) and narrowboats (40%). This trend continued in 2021, with an increase in the share of first-time owners across almost every type of boat and watersports craft.
- Twenty three percent of respondents to the survey indicated that they were likely to purchase a new boat or watersports craft within the next 12 months, with most interested in sailing yachts (32%), motor cruisers (25%) or trailerable powerboats (19%). According to respondents, attending industry exhibitions like Southampton International Boat Show has the greatest influence on their purchasing decision (69%).
- British brands dominated the style of boats that consumers were interested in purchasing, especially in the UK’s traditional boatbuilding niches, such as dinghy sailboats. In the sailing yacht and speedboat markets, however, demand is dominated by European and American brands.
“The results of the survey show there is a real appetite for people to get on the water in the UK, as an industry our job now is to look at ways we can continue to encourage people to take to the water in the UK and build on the momentum of the previous two years. However, the survey results are very encouraging with people now making the decision to invest in their own boats, indicating a potential commitment to getting out on the water more regularly,” commented Lesley Robinson, CEO, British Marine.