By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The demand for boats and other watercraft has skyrocketed during the pandemic, while inventory has stayed relatively flat. Manufacturing shutdowns have added to delays.

Boaters say they’ve seen more people out on area lakes.

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“This was the only way to spend time outside with your family without having any restrictions,” Jeremy MacPherson said.

A new boat? Hard to come by.

“You can’t find a new one,” MacPherson said.

Andy Larson, owner of Midwest Water Sports, says demand is incredibly strong.

“We have two boats in inventory currently and normally we’d have 40-plus. We have one used, and we’d probably have 20 of those in a normal time,” Larson said.

He says the boats on the floor are spoken for, while a customer waits on a boatlift or slip. The pandemic slowed manufacturing, making the market more challenging.

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“So we definitely have fewer new boats to sell last year than what we would in a normal year, coupled with a good sales year, which created kind of a back log going into this model year,” Larson said.

And they’re still trying to catch up.

“The whole niche is starving,” Larson said.

Jake Hayes at St. Boni Motor Sports says they sold out of Sea-Doos and Jet Skis in February.

“Everything that we’ve sold has been sold out of a catalog or off an iPad. The days of ‘Can I sit on it and see it and touch it and feel it first,’ have been over since early last year,” Hayes said.

Some customers, exercising patience, still waiting for them to arrive.

“In a perfect world they would have had it by Memorial Day, and now we’re just hoping they get it by July Fourth,” Hayes said.

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They say if you are in the market for a watercraft, get on a list now. Pre-sale is already happening for 2022.

Jennifer Mayerle