Boat show an important harbinger for boat dealers | CTV Toronto News

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Bill Doskoch,

Published Monday, January 16, 2012 3:26PM EST

For Ontario boat dealers, the Toronto International Boat Show is the first and best test of how well they can expect sales to go in 2012.

It’s a very significant indicator of how our year is going to be, as well as a good portion of our annual sales, Craig Booth, owner of D.T. Powersports and Marine in Uxbridge, told CTV News in a telephone interview on Thursday.

In 2011, sales were fair. It wasn’t the best show ever, but it wasn’t the worst either, he said.

The 2008 and 2009 shows were the two of the worst for sales, he said.

The recession struck in the fall of 2008 and went on until July 2009.

Booth said sales at the 2010 and 2011 shows were quite a bit better than 2008 and 2009. Based on the interest we’ve seen leading up to the show, we’re expecting this show to be good, he said.

Kim Wilson of Markham’s Central Outboard and Marine said they are very anxious to see how well things go at the show.

In a good year, they will sell 15 to 25 boats at the show, which he described as one of the best buying opportunities for consumers.

Last year’s show was a tough one for sales, with Central only selling about six boats, Wilson said.

It’s because of a tough economy and the fact that we’re selling products that are in the luxury category, he said.

Package prices (boat, motor, trailer) for Central’s boats range between about $20,000 to $40,000, he said. They would be classified as fishing and family boats measuring between 4.5 and 6.5 metres in length.

Larger cruiser and yacht-class boats are generally sold by marinas on a lake or river. Central is a dry-land dealership, he said.

While those selling smaller boats might describe business as fair, two marinas selling larger boats say 2011 was a good one for them.

We managed to sell just about all of our newer big boats in short order- the buyers were certainly there for newer, properly priced boats, said Andre Ganton of Toronto Yacht Sales.

He said a big boat would be one 40 feet (12.9 metres) or longer. While the boat show is a bood place to buy, his company tends to hold a portion of the winter sales in a trust account.

When the boat goes in the water in spring, we make sure it floats right side up and that the engines run. It gives both buyer and seller peace of mind, he said.

The general economy and the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar tend to drive sales. Fuel prices don’t tend to influence buyers as much, Ganton said.

Mississauga’s Crate Marine Sales also claims to have had a banner year.

In 2011, we certainly had a banner year, and the fall of 2011 was likely our biggest fall in the past 10, 12 years, said owner Greg Crate.

Crate will have a large display at the boat show, where he hopes the sales momentum will continue from last fall. We’ve never had more boats at the Toronto boat show, he said.

He sells boats in the cruiser and yacht classes. We deal with boats from 19 feet (6.1 metres) up to 92 feet (29.7 metres). So we deal with a lot of bigger stuff — million-dollar yachts, Crate said.

Even if one can’t afford to buy a million-dollar boat, you can at least see what one looks like.

The boat show does offer a wide range of products that range from three-figure prices up to $2 million. Boat show manager Monica Crate told CTV News that the products range from canoes and kayaks up to luxury yachts, along with boating accessories.

There’s something for everybody’s lifestyles and budget, she said.

Those new to boating are encouraged to start at the Discover Boating Centre. They can help you chart your course through the show. Because there’s so much to see, they want to find out what boat is right for you, Crate said.

The 54th edition of the show started Saturday and runs until Jan. 22. The general daily admission price for those between the ages of 17 and 64 is $18 at the door.

Those interested in attending can save three dollars by buying tickets in advance online .

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