Is It Cheaper to Buy a Boat in the Winter?

You might be contending with cold, winter weather right now, depending on where you live. Additionally, if you’re into boats, you’re probably daydreaming about getting out on your favorite body of water when the temperatures warm up. Winter isn’t necessarily the ideal time of year to go boating. It can, however, be a great time to buy a boat. So, can you expect cheaper boat prices if you purchase during the winter? Here’s what the trends suggest. And there’s more to boat-buying than just a few “best time to buy” dates on your day planner.

Is it best to buy a boat during the off-season?

Boats covered and docked on land during winter in Mecklenburg-Wester Pomerania, Stralsund by the Baltic Sea
Boats covered and docked on land during winter | Stefan Sauer/picture alliance via Getty Images

As Boats suggests, the short answer is yes. You can likely get better deals on boat pricing during the off-season. However, there are caveats to this theory, including region-based seasonal boating variations. While it’s winter for someone in New York, it’s still warm in Miami. Additionally, because snowbirds venture to warmer climates, the boat dealers in Florida might be seeing a surge in customers right now. It also depends on the brand or type of boat or boating activity you have in mind. Fishing can happen in almost any climate. So, in those necks of the woods where bodies of water don’t freeze, the ideal time to buy a boat is subjective.

It also depends on the brand or type of boat or boating activity you have in mind. Fishing can happen in almost any climate. If you go to a location where ice fishing is a favored pastime, the boat market might be lively in winter.

Boat dealerships that experience on and off-season buying will generally be more liberal with their incentives on boats during the cold times of the year. Additionally, you can expect to see savings of anywhere from 5% to 13% off the regular asking price. Just don’t bank on it being the surefire way to get the best deal without first considering your specific needs and region. 

Winter boat-buying discounts you might expect

If you can shop and buy a new boat during the off-season, data points to how much you can expect in savings. In those winter months of November through February (depending on where you live,) a pontoon boat might be discounted by $1,500 to $5,000, according to stats offered by Boating Valley. Meanwhile, a jet boat worth around $52,000 might have a $3,000 to $7,000 discount. 

Jon boats, Bowriders, and deck boats typically offer an off-season discount of roughly 5% to 10%. For all those angling enthusiasts bought during the winter months, Bass boats could see a price reduction of anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000.

Additionally, if skiffs are your thing, an average $25,000 boat might have savings available of up to $3,000 if purchased during the off-season. Bay boats and sailboats that run upwards of $55,000 might be marked down by $4,000 to $8,000. 

What enthusiasts should keep in mind when shopping for a boat

When you embark on a boat shopping journey, it can be just as intimidating as car-buying, especially if it’s your first purchase. You’ll want to take the same steps, including first determining your budget and boating needs. 

In addition to price shopping with seasonal discounts in mind, also be aware of any potential manufacturer rebates available. Before exploring any local boat dealer options, you can check out the manufacturer’s website.

In conjunction with the best times to buy a boat comes the monthly quota scenario. Most dealers working on a monthly calendar plan their models and receive manufacturer incentives. So, when you intend to buy toward the end of the month, the retailer might be more apt to cut you a deal to meet those monthly sales benchmarks.

It’s a good idea to start boat shopping during the winter months, which for many of you is right now. Just be mindful of some of these other nuances that may affect the bottom-line price you end up paying. Furthermore, do your homework on the boat model, the dealer, and previous ownership history. Soon, it will be boating season again, and you can be back on the water with your new craft, knowing you negotiated the best deal.

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