After a surprisingly busy year financing all kinds of boats, resulting in a 30% growth, we head into 2021 with yet another national lockdown. Before this lockdown, I would have estimated that 2021 would have been largely uncertain. However, with the Chancellor continuing to support workers and businesses, I feel the underlying economy is buoyant and is only facing hibernation until spring.
The UK consumer and boater is once more obeying the rules whilst readying themselves for easing and more freedom come springtime. We are already starting to see boat buyers resurfacing, and we are seeing plenty of enquiries.
Last year, our biggest year-on-year growth in the number of finance deals came from RIBs with an 86% increase from January-December. This was followed by motor yachts with a year-on-year growth of 47% in the number of deals made. Canal boats saw a 31% year-on-year increase and lastly sailing yachts with a 10% year-on-year increase.
We are noticing that the enquiries are for all types of boat types which is extremely positive. We also believe that COVID is prompting more people to consider boat ownership this year and once again consider the great British staycation in order to avoid the uncertainty of foreign travel.
Last year, we saw most boat brokers for inland and ocean going vessels stating that used stock was sold out and their new stock allocations were sold out for 2021 – how much of this is true to salesmanship aiming to sell their used stock I don’t know. We do know that some brokers and dealers were concerned that 2021 would be a year with nothing available to sell.
Some brokers are forecasting that first time buyers last year may be changing their boats this year which will replenish the used boat market and create new activity. In 2020 we saw a number of buyers upgrading their boats after just a few weeks or months and in each instance upgrading their boats. Some of our early enquiries this year confirm this trend has already started. Any why not? Our facilities allow customers to change their boats without finance penalties which further helps our customers to have the boat they really want.
2020 saw used boat prices across the board rise by 10% or more. Odd considering that new car sales are at a record low. Mainstream lending is available where BBLS and CBILS are offered but many personal loan companies have withdrawn from the market.
Service from mainstream lenders is virtually non-existent due to their cost cutting and streamlined procedures and relying upon algorithms to make decisions. We’ve also received feedback from customers that the mainstream lenders are extremely difficult to get hold of.
Promarine remains in a strong position and we are enthusiastic to help like-minded people to buy the boats they really want. We are keen to explore new ways to help new and existing customers with boat purchases and offer our understanding and expertise in all things boating.