Attendance at the bellwether Florida RV SuperShow in Tampa that ended Sunday (Jan. 17) increased 12% over last year, despite questionable weather on the last day of the show’s five-day run.
”The show was very, very upbeat,” said Lance Wilson, executive director of the sponsoring Florida Recreation Vehicle Trade Association (FRVTA). ”The weather was iffy on Sunday, but the dealers we talked to all said the same thing — that they didn’t hear any negative talk at all. People weren’t complaining about the economy or gas prices. They were just happy to be there.”
Some 50,753 people passed through the gates of the Florida State Fairgrounds Wednesday (Jan. 13) through Sunday.
”We had a nice increase (in sales) from last year,” said Ken Stumpe, Florida Show sales manager for Lazydays RV SuperCenter in nearby Seffner, Fla., ”There was a lot more traffic than last year. It was a totally different atmosphere. A lot of people said they were tired of waiting.”
Camping World RV Sales, which had a dozen displays at the show, sold 179 units, 37 of them Damon and Four Winds motorized RVs, according to President Marcus Lemonis.
Increased attendance at the Florida Show generally mirrored that of other early 2010 shows in Denver, Cleveland, the Washington, D.C., area and Greensboro, N.C.
“Seeing all the aisles full and the dealers not being able to handle all the customers is great,” said Tom Gaither, senior vice president of Affinity Group Inc.’s Affinity Events division.
Gaither reported positive attendance results at three U.s. shows that his organization operates:
- The 20th Annual Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show Jan. 13-16 in Denver increased 26% compared to 2009.
- The 21st Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show Jan. 8-10 in Greensboro was up 1%.
- The 24th Annual Washington Camping RV Expo in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Chantilly, Va., increased a startling 154%.
”Just the fact that attendance was up tells me that people are looking for RVs and want to go camping,” Gaither said.
Elsewhere, the 34th Annual Ohio Supershow Jan. 6-10, sponsored by the Great Lakes Recreation Vehicle Association, saw a 30% increase in attendance.
”It was one of the best shows in 34 years,” said Great Lakes President Bruce Wolfson. ”It was a great start to the year. People were very upbeat, so the dealers were upbeat because of it.”
Bob Moore, co-owner of Moores’ RV, North Ridgeville, Ohio, said this year’s Ohio Show was the best he’d had in three years.
”The public’s attitude is improving,” Moore said. ”People came in in much better spirits and were much more interested in buying. Their level of creditworthiness and their willingness to put money down was up substantially. That has made us very optimistic about how things are going to go for the summer.”
Not all reports were upbeat, however.
At the Tarrant County RV Show Jan. 7-10 in Fort Worth, Texas, attendance wasn’t quite as strong as last year, said show director Pat Hahn.
Considering below-freezing temperatures for four days before the show and competition from a Dallas Cowboy’s playoff football game, ”I was very pleased with attendance,” she said. ”It was almost as good as last year and last year’s show was terrific.”
Stacy Rist, general manager of Bennett’s Camping Center, a towable dealer in Granbury, Texas, said that while sales at the Fort Worth show weren’t strong, the dealership got a lot of leads.
”There was lots of traffic, but nobody was turning lose of any of their money,” Rist said. ”We might not be over the hump yet. I’m not completely disappointed, but the days of the impulse buyer are gone. You have to work hard for each sale.”
Turnout for a pair of regional RV shows held during the Nov. 5-8 weekend by the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) was up dramatically, yet another indicator that the Great Recession of 2009 may finally be ebbing.
According to FRVTA officials, the Tampa Bay RV Show and the West Palm Beach Fall RV Shows both drew crowds larger than last year’s shows.
“We’re extremely encouraged by the turnout at both of these shows,” said FRVTA Marketing Director Dave Kelly. “With our busy season just beginning, we’re hoping this is a sign of things to come with the Florida RV SuperShow and all our winter regional shows.”
The Tampa Bay RV Show, held at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, drew more than 5,800 people during the four-day event, making it the best-attended show since 2006.
“We had a great show,” said Ryan Hollan of Harberson RV. “I was surprised at the number of families that came to the show. I think we’ve tapped into a new market besides just the retirees. And most of our deals didn’t involve a trade-in, so we know were also getting the first-time buyers as well.”
Across the state on the east coast, the West Palm Beach Fall RV Show was also up compared to last year with just under 3,200 visitors. Despite high winds and cloudy skies, dealers reported that people “came to shop” to the event held at the South Florida Fairgrounds.
“There were a lot of people with cameras and note pads,” commented FRVTA Director Lance Wilson. “We also had a lot of families over the weekend, so I know the dealers were happy — and I’m sure they will see a lot of these people back on their lots.”
The next show on the FRVTA calendar is the 2010 Florida RV SuperShow, January 12 (Trade Day) and January 13-17 (Public Days). For more information about the SuperShow or the other FRVTA regional shows visit www.frvta.org or call (813) 741-0488.