2021 In Review: How Recreational Activities Continue to Evolve

2021 presented new and ongoing challenges as we continued to weather the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic, navigate the resulting global supply chain disruptions which caused product shortages across the board, and grappled with the seemingly perpetual uncertainty of what the future holds. 

Through the ups and downs of the last year, there’s no denying that things are changing—and that goes for how we spend our leisure time, too. Let’s take a look at some of the ways our work and recreational behaviors have continued to evolve across the country during 2021.

Notable RV Industry Statistics for 2021 

  • 11.2 million households own an RV, evenly split between individuals under and over the age of 55.
  • There has been significant growth in ownership amongst 18-to-34-year-olds who now make up 22% of the market.
  • A staggering 9.6 million households have plans to purchase an RV within the next five years.
  • Those intending to purchase an RV plan to use it a median of 25 days each year, representing the changing views towards remote and non-traditional workspaces. 

Notable Boat Industry Statistics for 2021

  • The boating industry has been in growth mode since 2012, hitting a 13-year high in 2020 and continuing to spike throughout 2021.
  • Boat sales were up 30% through March 2021 compared to the previous year’s average.
  • First-time boat buyers are expanding diversity across the market, averaging younger in age and being 1.5 times more likely to be women than any other buying group.
  • Entry-level boat styles including personal watercrafts, wake sport boats, freshwater fishing boats, and pontoons are all driving record retail sales, highlighting the trend in younger, more active first-time buyers entering the market.

Though trends were already pointing towards industry growth in both RVing and boating before the start of the global pandemic, the reality of life with COVID-19 has only furthered families’ desires for outdoor recreational activities and quality time spent with loved ones. These market shifts don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon, either.

With the continued prevalence of remote work and flexible schedules, more individuals and families in the RV market are exploring the ideas of RV-based office space, home schooling, or long-term travel lifestyles going into the new year. 

As for the water, boating and fishing continues to hold the top spot as the largest recreational activity in the U.S. and approximately 100 million Americans go boating each year. Heading into 2022, the market is expected to keep growing and diversifying as people continue to discover the mental health benefits, joys, and  freedoms of getting out on the water.

The recent global supply shortage has also shifted the types of RV and boating products consumers have access to. Rather than waiting months for new items, many people are choosing to buy used alternatives. By purchasing used, families can get into a unit quickly at a lower cost, then update or customize later to meet their specific needs. Owners are embracing upgrades—such as additional lighting, tables to support work, or bling in the form of a new battery-lit table—to help prolong the life and value of their investment.

Despite challenges for many across the last year, outdoor recreation is still on the rise and the future looks hopeful when it comes to getting outside, exploring new ways of living, and spending time with loved ones. 

Sources: National Marine Manufacturers Association, RV Industry Association

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