Industry News 1/26/2009

Surf Expo Exceeds Expectations; Matches Last Year’s Record Show

Surf Expo Exceeds Expectations; Matches Last Year’s Record Show

Pre-show anticipation was guarded in the days before last week’s Surf Expo show in Orlando, Florida. Kicking off the trade-show season for the beach and boardsports industries, the January 14-17 event would serve as an important barometer for both the health of the overall beach-lifestyle market and the sentiment of retailers placing orders for 2009. 

As the show got underway, initial on-the-floor indicators were strong and were supported by distinctly optimistic comments from many exhibitors and retailers.

With the tabulation of post-show attendance numbers now complete, Surf Expo announced today that buyer and store attendance numbers were within 1.5% of last January’s record-breaking tally. Given the current economic uncertainty, buyers and exhibitors agree that Surf Expo exceeded expectations and delivered beyond their best-case scenario.

“I walked the entire show floor,” said Surf Expo Show Director Roy Turner, “and time and time again exhibitors told me, ‘The buyers are here. The buyers are here.’ It was exciting—and really indicative of the optimism that our industries are known for.”

While buyer attendance remained strong, post-show attendance analysis shows that exhibitors brought only their essential personnel to the show. Additionally, industry guest attendance was down 38%.

According to show management, the strong buyer attendance numbers can be partially attributed to an enhanced investment in Surf Expo’s buyer relations department, which saw a 100% percent increase in its retailer buydown budget. This reallocation of funds enabled many retailers to attend the show and write orders for the summer, and also increased Surf Expo’s store count from critical territories such as Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Canada, and the West Coast.

“The show was much better than expected,” said Mike Carter of Electric Visual Eyewear. “I think we had the expectation coming back here, with all the doom and gloom, that this was going to be a pretty heavy shocker. But at the end of it, here on day three, I’m pleasantly surprised—I’m actually very stoked on how things went for us this whole trade show.”

“The show has been really strong,” said Rusty Apparel Sales Director Paul Harvey. “There’s a lot of optimism—I’m surprised. I’m stoked. Everyone is recharged and ready to roll for ’09. They seem to be really analyzing their business and not focusing anymore on ‘The sky is falling.’  That’s been really surprising. I didn’t anticipate that there would be so much optimism out there with the retailer. So I’m stoked.”

“The show has been good,” said Firewire’s Mike Milliken. “Definitely the accounts we need to see are here—and that’s what we’re looking for obviously. It’s definitely been a successful show, even though the economy is tight and people are sketched. There are definitely the right people here and that’s what really counts.”

“I’m incredibly happy that I came here,” said Bill Stewart of Stewart Surfboards. “My business is doing really, really well even in the bad times. That’s when you’ve got to get tough. You can’t lay down, you’ve got to keep swinging the bat. So I came here to let everyone know that I’m warm, safe, and dry and that I’m not going anywhere. I’m really, really excited by how things went.”

The next Surf Expo will be August 20-22, 2009 in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. For complete show information, go to surfexpo.com.