NORWALK, Conn. — Exhibitors at the Norwalk Boat Show, which kicked off Thursday on the southwest Connecticut coastline, say a near-perfect summer, combined with lower fuel prices and a continued economic recovery, have produced a solid 2015 and offer optimism moving forward.
“The year has been good. From July 1 to today we didn’t have a bad weekend,” Bob Petzold, president of Petzold Marine Center in Portland, Conn., which sells Sabre, Back Cove, Ocean, Regal and EdgeWater boats, told Trade Only Today. “With fuel prices down, everyone I spoke with used their boat more often, and we’re already benefiting with increased sales.”
The stellar weather that aided last week’s Newport International Boat Show in Rhode Island continued with bright blue skies that are predicted to last through the weekend.
Traffic along the docks was modest but steady Thursday afternoon, and exhibitors say those who attended were serious shoppers.
“Most of our customers come focused and they’ve done their homework,” said Paul Cusson, president of Atlantic Outboard in Westbrook, Conn., which carries the Pursuit and Robalo lines.
Among its half-dozen boats on display, the dealer showcased the new Robalo R160 center console, one of several entry-level boats at the Norwalk show. Listed at $22,433 with a 70-hp Yamaha, the boat has attracted several entry-level boaters to the dealership.
“We had our first on the floor the first week of August, and within four days it was sold,” Cusson said. “We’re excited for this show and for the Hartford show this winter.”
Peter Knutson Jr., a dealer at MarineMax Long Island in Lindenhurst, N.Y., which carries the Azimut, Boston Whaler, Sailfish and Sea Ray lines, said 2015 was “the best summer we’ve had in five or six years, both in buying and using boats.”
From his perspective on Long Island’s South Shore, the increased demand for larger boats, 50-feet-plus, “has been very noticeable this year.”
Noting a steady decline in fuel prices, stability in the markets and decreasing unemployment, Knutson said his customers “don’t seem as scared about their finances as they were.”
The Norwalk Boat Show continues through Sunday at Norwalk Cove Marina. Look for a more in-depth report in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.