Seattle show reports attendance boost

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The nine-day Seattle Boat Show had strong results and helped boost solid January sales despite the decision from organizers to close a day early to watch the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl.

Final attendance was up 2 percent at the show’s Feb. 1 close despite the loss of a day. Attendance was 51,684 over nine days, compared with 50,653 at last year’s 10-day show.

The Vancouver, B.C., show and the inaugural San Francisco Boat Show, which coincided with the opening weekend of the Seattle show, appeared to have had little impact.

The opening weekend was strong with attendance up 12 percent from the opening weekend of 2013. Attendees came from 32 states, five Canadian provinces and as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil. Many exhibitors commented on a strong Canadian presence at the show, which is organized by the Northwest Marine Trade Association and the Northwest Yacht Brokers Association.

Other encouraging signs for the recovering Northwest recreational boating market came recently. According to UW Sea Grant, which compiles sales data from the Washington State Department of Licensing, new-boat sales by dealers were up 50 percent in units and 35 percent in dollar value in January 2014 from January 2013.

It was the largest increase in units since January 2010 and, before that, 2006, and the highest January dollar volume since 2007.

“Closing the show a day early was absolutely the right decision,” NWTA president George Harris said in a statement. “Northwest boaters love their show and their Seahawks, and they were able to celebrate both. We were very pleased to see an increase in attendance, despite the shorter show. Attendees showed up with enthusiasm, ready to shop, plan and prepare for every type of boating in the Northwest, and the reports from our exhibitors are some of the most positive we’ve seen in years.”

James Baker, vice president of Seattle Boat Works, a Cobalt and Malibu dealer, said sales were up 12 percent in units and 30 percent in dollar volume from last year’s show.

“We saw fewer lookers and dreamers than in recent years, and many more buyers this year,” Baker said in the statement. “This was our best show since 2006.”

Yacht Masters NW owner Greg Allen agreed.

“This was the best boat show we’ve seen in seven years, and we’re still following up on leads and expect even more business to come in as a result of the show,” Allen said.

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