Organizers report steady sales at New York show

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Despite a 19 percent dip in attendance, organizers said sales were strong at the 2013 Progressive Insurance New York Boat Show, which was held slightly more than two months after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Northeast and caused an estimated $50 billion damage in that region and the Great Lakes.

“I think there are definitely some bright spots from Sandy,” New York Marine Trades Association president Chris Squeri told Soundings Trade Only. “There’s a lot of activity, a lot of movement. I think there’s a lot of positive that came out of it.”

Despite stronger-than-expected sales at the show, which ended Sunday, Squeri said some people held back because they hadn’t yet received insurance settlement money from vessels lost, damaged or destroyed in the storm — about 65,000 boats, according to BoatUS.

“But at least some people were there saying they were waiting for their check and then they were going to buy something. It wasn’t like they were going to walk away,” Squeri said. “There might be a silver lining for the industry there.”

“People who lost boats will replace them,” Squeri said. “The problem is the used-boat market got hit as well. A lot of boats that were listed are no longer listed. That will shake out in the next 12 to 18 months. But to say that boat sales are not going to be helped by Sandy — they’re definitely going to be helped. I don’t see it any other way.”

The show, which was held Jan. 3-6, also spurred a significant amount of positive press coverage in New York and throughout the country about the industry and the fun of boating, helping to set a positive tone for the winter boat show season, Sarah Ryser of the National Marine Manufacturers Association told Trade Only in an email.

NMMA president Thom Dammrich was featured on several news outlets covering the show, which came on the heels of the announcement of a 10 percent increase in boat sales this year, including CNBC.com, Fox Business, Star-Ledger, WNBC-TV, Wall Street Journal, CBS Evening News, and NY1-TV.

With one less show day this year, after a move from five days to four, and a shift to the early post-holiday week, Sandy wasn’t the only challenge the New York show faced. But the attendance drop, to 32,691 versus 40,120 a year earlier, didn’t keep dealers and manufacturers from reporting that they were happy with the quality of boating consumers and leads at the show, reported the NMMA, the group that owns the show.

Four more NMMA shows start this week: the Progressive Insurance Nashville Boat & Sportshow, Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show, Progressive Insurance Kansas City Boat & Sportshow and Progressive Insurance Atlanta Boat Show. Visit www.boatshows.com for a complete 2013 show schedule.

— Reagan Haynes

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