Staycation trend provides positive boost to boating in Finland
Cottage holidays and domestic tourism have provided a positive boost to the Finnish boat industry this summer: 22 percent more boats were registered in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year. Whereas around 4000 watercraft were registered during the whole of last year, already more than 4200 different boats were registered in Finland by the end of July this year.
"The growth of over 20 percent can be explained by the fact that people have spent their summer in Finland rather than travelling abroad. Also unusual is the fact that boat sales are continuing this late in the season, whereas typically the peak season ends around the midsummer holidays in late June," says Mikael Winqvist, Managing Director of AMT Boats in Kontiolahti and Chairman of the Finnish Boating Industry Association.
According to Finnboat CEO Jarkko Pajusalo, the most typical type of boat purchased by Finns is still a smallish, general purpose boat with a console and outboard motor. Of the almost 2900 motorboats that have been registered in Finland this year, almost 90 percent are under seven metres in length and used typically for outings, fishing, water sports and accessing summer cottages.
The boating industry will be exhibited at the Helsinki Boat-Afloat Show 2020, which opens on Thursday 13 August in Lauttasaari, Helsinki, and continues throughout the weekend. The new piers and onshore stands will present over 250 boats, from dinghies to yachts, including new models for the next boating season and product launches. The large exhibition area also presents a wide range of boating accessories, supplies, services and water sports equipment.
Domestic sales up 70 percent for AMT
The top places in the statistics for boat registrations are dominated by familiar Finnish brands. The most popular motorboat brands in the first of 2020 were Buster, Yamarin, Silver, Suvi, Terhi, Faster, AMT and Falcon.
In Finland, all boats over 5.5 metres in length or powered by engines with power ratings in excess of 20 hp must be registered with Traficom, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency.
"Domestic sales for us were up by 70 percent, and we increased our market share by designing and brining to market new models specifically in the most popular 5-6 metre size class," says Mikael Winqvist.
Sales of jet skis have also continued to climb. Over 1200 jet skis were registered in the first half of 2020, representing year-on-year growth of 26 percent within this segment. The leading jet ski brand continues to be Sea-Doo, with almost a thousand units sold, followed by Yamaha with 180 new registrations.
While the changes in lifestyles brought about by the corona crisis have benefit domestic tourism, cottage holidays and boating, exports of Finnish boats have suffered. The value of boat exports, however, has remained practically unchanged according to customs statistics.
"Corona has hampered sourcing within the boating industry, as supply chains are global. It has also impacted exports, the value of which fell by 4.9 percent. Exports to Norway alone fell by 27 percent this spring, although exports to Sweden actually increased by 9 percent," Finnboat's Jarkko Pajusalo says.
The overall situation for boat exports will be clearer later in the autumn, as customs statistics are currently available only for January-May.
"Boat sales in Sweden and Norway, the two most important export markets for the Finnish boat industry, have also been strong, although in both countries the weak domestic currencies have reduced imports, and there too existing boat stocks have been sold first before ordering new products. Due to the weak performance of exports, our overall increase in sales has remained at just five percent despite strong domestic sales," says Mikael Winqvist.
Strong sales among large, pre-owned cruising boats
Altogether 17 new yachts were registered in Finland in the first half of 2020, compared to 21 during the same period last year. The most popular brands are Beneteau from France and Hanse from Germany.
Although the boating boom has not yet had time to boost the segment for large, tailor-made boats, sales of large, pre-owned cruising boats have been very strong. Both older boats that provide first-time access to boating at an affordable price and more expensive boats have found customers.
According to Samuli Leisti from Blue Ocean, Finland's biggest dealer for pre-owned boats, this year will be the busiest in the company's history to date. Blue Ocean has sold around 50 sailing boats and a total of 80 cruising boats so far this year, compared to total sales of 67 boats last year. Total sales are expected to reach around a hundred boats this year.
"The best news this year has been the tremendous growth in the number of new boaters. The only boating experience that many of these new customers have is with small Buster-type motorboats, and they typically purchase a pre-owned cruising boat in the 10-metre class," Samuli Leisti says.
The average price of boats sold by Blue Ocean is approximately 80,000 euros, which is significantly higher than the average price of boats sold online.
Electric motors continue to grow in popularity
Sales of outboard motors increased by four percent in January-June 2020. Growth figures were significantly higher for the electric motors used especially on small boats, sales of which increased by over twenty percent. Sales of electric trolling motors for angling boats doubled.
"The big increase in sales of electric trolling motors reflects the growing popularity of angling, while regular electric outboard motors are increasingly replacing small combustion engines on smaller boats," says Pajusalo.
Jarkko Pajusalo, Finnish Marine Industries Federation Finnboat, +358 40 673 4032
Mikael Winqvist, AMT-veneet Oy, +358 40 545 6252
Samuli Leisti, Blue Ocean Oy, +358 40 746 0958