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Claims of ‘no time to boat’ are doubtful

If we want to do it, we’ll make time for it . . . even at the expense of time needed to get things done we should get done! That’s what we could conclude from the 2010 American Time Use Survey, published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Face it, we’ve all spoken these words — “I’ve just been too busy” or “I’m up to here and can’t get to it” or “Not enough hours in a day!” — to explain why we didn’t do something. But, according to the ATUS, it’s not that we don’t have the time. Rather, it’s really just explaining away why we don’t want to do it in the first place. Most of us are not too busy to do what we want to do.

The ATUS data covers the average amount of time per day that individuals work, do household activities and engage in leisure and sports activities. For example, employed persons work an average of 7.5 hours on the days they work. Most people work on weekdays: 82 percent of employed persons work on an average weekday, compared with 35 percent on an average weekend day. So, for the vast majority of workers, weekends are available for other activities.

Next, consider necessary household activities. We all have them. In fact, ATUS reveals, on an average day, 84 percent of women and 67 percent of men put in some time doing household activities like housework, yard maintenance, finances, etc. But, on the days household duties are performed, women spend an average of 2.6 hours while men spend 2.1 hours on such activities. That leaves plenty of hours for other things.

Finally, ATUS tells us leisure and sports activities get more hours than we might realize. First, for example, on an average day nearly everyone age 15 and over engages in some form of leisure activity. Men spend 5.8 hours in these activities and women 5.1 hours. That’s almost as much time as the average workday and more than double the household activities hours.

Sadly, couch potato TV watching is the leisure activity (if you can call it an activity and keep a straight face) that occupies the most time at 2.7 hours per day and accounts for nearly half of daily leisure time. On a more positive note, however, socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity. Moreover, men were more likely than women to participate in sports, exercise, or recreation on any given day – 22 percent compared with 16 percent. On the days that they did participate, men spent more time in these activities than women -1.9 hours compared with 1.3 hours.

The fact is, people aren’t as consumed with work as they might want others, or even themselves, to believe. We all spend upwards of a third of our waking hours on activities that have nothing to do with work. Accordingly, those selling boats should recognize a “no-time” objection by prospects and customers is more perceived than real. It’s important to establish that boating fits well with the time for leisure activities that the ATUS shows most families actually have. But there’s more good news.

Looking at government statistics, the 2011 Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Survey focused solely on the top 20 percent of U.S. households (44 million) with incomes of $100,000 and up. This group accounts for more than half the U.S. household income and spends nearly $1 trillion a year. Not surprising, they are, on average, 2.0 times more likely to buy discretionary goods and spend 3.2 times more than the rest of the population. Moreover, the survey showed affluent heads of households participate widely and frequently in sporting activities, spending disproportionately more time on their chosen sport (except for backpacking) and are most likely to powerboat, sail, play tennis, ski or golf.

It’s hard to make a no-time-for-boating objection stick if you’re armed with these facts. So get them off the couch and welcome them to the water!


4 comments on “Claims of ‘no time to boat’ are doubtful

  1. Tom Mack

    Norm –

    Great Article. Like many dealers, we hear more comments that there are simply too many competing activities, especially with families and kid’s busy schedules. Our response that seems to get consumers really thinking involves asking them with a little “Dr. Phil” style – “… so how’s that working for you…?” Many of them when asked will tell you things like Mom’s feel like taxi drivers going to way too many kids activities, and parents complain about too many activities consuming their weekend calendars. In reality, they may not be so happy about it. Once that’s on the table, it’s the perfect lead-in to explaining how boating is one of the few activities that BRING THE FAMILY TOGETHER, rather than apart in different directions like so many other activities. You can often see an “aha moment” when you get them really considering what they want for their family in terms of treasured time together. We’re selling a lifestyle and potential memories that are truly hard to top!



  2. Sheryl RothRigers

    Edgartown Marine reminds clients of your full service year round boatyard: Relax, We’ll take care of your boat, for just this reason. The harder you work, the more important it is to relax. We all know that boating is one of the key ways that people “get away”. Whether for a few days per year, or weeks or months a year, here in the Northeast, boating is an extraordinary way to relax. Thank you for sharing this American Time Use Study!

  3. Dave Rickard P/RC


    Very intresting article.
    AS a teaching oganization we (The United States Power Squadrons) have a tendency to buy into this “no time” idea. However our spring classes seem to buck that trend.

    Are experience is that people have more time to become educated boaters. Our Boating classes for the spring have been 12 to 18 students for the last 3 years This year they have increased to 34 students. This is for one Power Squadron. Other Squadrons in the Greater Cleveland area have higher attendence also.

  4. CaptainA


    I think this is a very important subject. I think people are feeling stressed out and worn down. To that end they want to simplify their free time. So while they may have some free time, I do not think these same people want to commute to their boat for an hour, spend lots of money and time maintaining it, and then commute home. The key to solving this problem is to affordable boating programs that will minimize the hassles of ownership and maximize the fun. Fractional ownership and shared use boat clubs are the way to go.

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