As COVID restrictions stretched through the summer months and now continue into the winter season, an unexpected demand for outdoor recreational toys has emerged. Snowmobiles, ATVs, jet skis, boats, and bikes have seen a surge in popularity. With most leisure travel and dining out being limited, recreational toys have become the latest source of entertainment for many to spend their discretionary dollars.
Sales for recreational toys are up all around as heading out onto the trails or the water remains one of the few pandemic-friendly activities where you can easily stay socially distanced.
Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo maker BRP Inc. saw North American retail sales increase 16% year-over-year for their past quarter, with Sea-Doo sales up 35% in the first three weeks of May.
Wave Runners hit a record this year with a 23% increase in sales during their peak season from October to June, and jet boat sales saw a 29% increase from the previous year.
Showrooms Are Selling Out
But, if you’re thinking you’d like to try powering through snow drifts on a Ski-Doo or hitting the lake on a jet ski, you may find yourself on a long waitlist. Showrooms are quickly selling out of these popular toys, and they are finding it difficult to keep up with demand.
When the pandemic first hit, manufacturers of these outdoor toys were forced to halt production. And now with a boom in interest for toys, the initial stoppage in production has left manufacturers scrambling to meet demand.
While typically BRP Inc. only makes their snowmobiles for a few months ending production in December, this year the company has extended their Ski-Doo production through mid-January to keep up with new orders. This year is seeing more first-time buyers than ever.
In an internal survey conducted by the Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo maker, 30% of customers in the past month were new to their products, compared to the usual 20%.
With more time cooped-up at home as workers shift from offices to the kitchen table and schools transform into virtual classrooms, many are itching to get out, find a little adventure, and try something new.
Many new to these recreational toys are discovering the joy of power sports while taking a vacation or spending weekend trips at drivable resort destinations.
Resorts provide the ideal environment for a safe and cost-effective introduction to outdoor recreational toys. And with limited pandemic-friendly activities, individuals and families are more open and excited to try hopping on a snowmobile or making some waves on a jet ski.
For instance, according to an AP story, local snowmobile rental services in New Hampshire have seen record sales for used equipment and are advising people to book four to six weeks in advance due to such high demand.
Upgrading to More Technically-Advanced Toys
The industry is also seeing a resurgence in those who aren’t new to power sports but haven’t taken out their snowmobile or ATV for years. Many are coming into showrooms to update their gear or trade-in for an upgraded, more technically-advanced toy.
Between veteran power sports enthusiasts and an avalanche of newcomers, trails will certainly be busier this year and likely continue past the pandemic as people rediscover the joy of outdoor recreational toys or fall in love with power sports for the first time.