Why luxury yachts are in demand despite inflation

Dusseldorf High energy prices and dramatic price increases are currently burdening many sectors. The luxury segment of the boat industry, on the other hand, is crisis-proof. Super yachts and luxury power boats continue to be bought by wealthy customers. Meter-long, gleaming motor yachts are not only popular abroad – German customers also afford a lot.

The Princess X80, for example, is aimed at a small circle of the world’s top earners with a purchase price of around 7.9 million euros. The 25 meter long yacht offers the owners a lot of luxury and comfort. In addition to several bedrooms, there is a bar and a jacuzzi on the wooden deck.

The super yacht is one of the stars of the boat and water sports fair Boot in Düsseldorf, which will be open until next weekend. In Hall 6, the newest and most beautiful examples can be admired. The Princess X80 is one of the favorites with its 25 meters in length. In addition to the model, brands such as Sunseeker and Ferretti are the top providers. There are hardly any limits to splendor and luxury.

Boot is one of the largest boat and water sports fairs in the world. Spread over 16 halls, visitors can not only look at yachts and inflatable boats. Water sports such as surfing or wakeboarding are also represented.

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According to the organizer, after a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 60,000 interested people were there again on the first weekend. A total of 200,000 visitors are expected at the week-long fair.

Digitization is changing the boat trade

Karsten Stahlhut, Managing Director of the German Water Sports Association, can look back on very successful years. And with the corona pandemic, the industry experienced another huge upswing. There was an enormous urge from people to simply get out of everyday life with Corona.

Luxury equipment from the manufacturer Princess

In the first half of last year, boats worth over 5.5 billion euros were sold worldwide.

“Everything that could swim was bought,” remembers Stahlhut. But collapsed supply chains also posed challenges for the industry. Engines and small parts were hardly available.

In particular, online boat trading has been booming for a few years. Lockdowns and contact restrictions prompted more people than usual to buy a boat. Nadja Sörgel is the European boss of the Boats Group and has many years of experience in the industry. “We’ve had an absolute boom phase over the past three years,” she says.

The US company Boats Group is something like the Amazon for boats. On the company’s websites and online marketplaces, customers can buy cheaper motor boats, but also yachts worth tens of millions.

Prices for 26-foot yachts increase by 140 percent

The online business only got an upswing with the pandemic. Many retailers were forced to adapt to digitization and expanded their sales. “Today we no longer have the discussion as to whether a retailer should be online,” says Sörgel. Today it is only a question of how the retailer designs its online presence.

Manhattan 68

Sunseeker’s luxury yacht has its world premiere at the Boot in Düsseldorf.

With the expansion to the online market, boat dealers can achieve more reach. As a result of the pandemic, new customers in particular were won who had no previous experience with boats. “Of course, we opened up a whole new market,” reports Sörgel.

The boom is also reflected in the number of clicks. The boats.com website had monthly visits of around 500,000 people looking for a boat in 2022 – an increase of 47 percent compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

The high demand is also reflected in the prices. The Boats Group reports that the average price for boats in the 26-foot range rose continuously in 2022 – internationally by around 140 percent. In the first half of last year, boats worth more than 5.5 billion euros were sold worldwide.

German customers are looking for yachts from 500,000 euros

Even inflation cannot harm the boom in luxury boats. “In the last two years, buyers have accepted price increases,” confirms Nadja Sörgel. Despite the significant price increases, many customers are willing to invest in noble boats. The luxury segment in particular is doing well.

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Karsten Stahlhut also sees the industry as well protected from inflation and the energy crisis. The order books of the shipyards are still full. Especially models from 100,000 euros are bought a lot. There is hardly any upper limit to the price.

According to Sörgel, German and French customers in particular are willing to spend a lot of money on large boats and yachts. German customers are particularly interested in sailing and motor yachts with a value of 500,000 euros or more.

The Ferretti Yachts 580 celebrated its world premiere at Boot. The 18 meter long yacht from the Italian brand offers several bedrooms, a kitchen and several lounge areas. On the water, the boat can reach up to 28 knots.

The multi-million dollar boat with its luxury equipment is only accessible to a small part of the population. This does not prevent Ferretti from doing good business even in economically difficult times: the company’s order backlog amounts to 1.4 billion euros.

Nadja Sörgel is also positive about the future of the industry. She observes that the boat builders emerged from the crisis stronger than before. With many new customers, there was also a greater awareness of boats – and a larger market.

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