FLIBS organizers report outrageous sales

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Overall attendance is expected to be up when organizers finish counting up the results of the 2004 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, said Kaye Pearson,, show director, in an interview this morning.

The five-day show, which ends today, saw record attendance numbers on Thursday and Friday, while weekend numbers are expected to be flat or slightly down from last year. Despite that, Pearson is optimistic that the show will end with attendance up.

Calling show sales “outrageous,” he also expressed optimism about exhibitors’ results during the show. Among those reporting strong sales are Viking, Cabo, Hatteras, Trinity, Westport and Boston Whaler, Pearson said.

“The reality is that the economy is not in bad shape,” he explained. “We have some problems, but with a growing economy and no interest rates, there are lots of things to encourage people to buy products.”

Hurricane to be a factor?

Some of the purchases at the show were likely to replace boats damaged during the hurricane season this year, Pearson admitted, but it wasn’t a major factor in sales results.

He said 8 of the 45 boats Boston Whaler reported selling so far were intended as replacements.

Ultimately, more small boats were damaged in the hurricanes than big boats, Pearson explained. As a result, he expects more replacement sales to occur during the St. Petersburg show later this month than at Fort Lauderdale, known for its big boats.

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-- Liz Walz

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