Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Well, we just got back from our booth at the Toronto international Boat Show and in just a few weeks we’ll be heading to Miami to cover the boat show there. Once the Miami show has been done we head off cruising to BVI in the Caribbean for a spell. This winter has been so cold and snowy we feel very fortunate we are able to make this escape. If we could take all of you with us we would ... but we do promise to bring you back something interesting from the sunny south as a consolation prize.

Back to the Toronto boat show for a bit. I have to say I thought it would be busier than it was. We will report the official stats soon on the What’s New page, but my gut says traffic was down a fair bit. I’m not sure exactly why, because I honestly expected it would be up quite a bit because the recent Fort Lauderdale show was way up, and because consumers are starting to feel more comfortable with the economy.

We talked to many vendors at the show. It seems the companies selling boat gear and parts did very well. The boat brokers held their own, but traffic was lighter than usual. Worthy of note is that most yacht brokers are up in sales this past few quarters. From a new boat sales point of view, it doesn’t look like they did very well – especially the big yacht sellers. Deals were few and far between.

Yes there were line ups to get onboard the bigger yachts. The boat show is a place where folks that have never been aboard a big boat can partake and get a good look around. That doesn’t necessarily convert with qualified leads though. Lots of tire kickers and when they want to honk the horn up on the bridge, you know your in trouble.

Maybe it’s really not that much of a surprise. Canadians are a cautious lot. Boats are disposable income luxury goods. Our US friends seem to be willing to take on more risk and are clearly feeling very good about their economy starting to steam along down there. So why not Canadians? Canadians came out of the recession not too badly from a job and housing point of view ... but if you had your money in TSX index funds you still won’t be feeling the love yet. They say this will be the year for commodities and the TSX ... so lets hope it makes up some more ground and gets back above 15,500 quickly. If you have lots of US stocks you have the best of both worlds with our weaker dollar and the sharp rise of the DOW.

Our dollar continues to fall against the American economy and it’s likely to dip to 85 cents and settle below 90 cents for a while, making the cost of US made products and parts more expensive for Canadians – and that includes boats.

There were far fewer US based yacht brokers at the show. With our low dollar it’s harder to sell US based boats to Canadians. It bodes well for Canadian brokers though, and pretty soon there will be even more of our US friends coming north to shop for quality fresh water boats at a great $ discount.

If I was a boat dealer or marina I’d just keep my head down and keep at it, because there is light at the end of the tunnel and the sun will shine for them once again before too long. In any event I would say the Toronto International Boat Show people run a pretty good show and it’s not for lack of advertising or anything like that. The show was very well promoted. On the other hand if I was TIBS management I wouldn’t be raising the booth rates next year and I would probably reduce the entrance fee somewhat. But that’s just my two cents worth. Bring on the heat of spring and let’s see if that plants the seed and sprouts some green shoots to bring some new boat owners off the fence.

Posted by at 1:09 PM