Exhibitors at the Southampton International Boat Show, the UK’s largest maritime show, are optimistic about the future despite concerns about the impact of rising living costs on sales. The event, which features over 650 boats and 350 trade stands, attracts around 100,000 visitors each year. Lesley Robinson, CEO of show organisers British Marine, stated that while margins are being squeezed, the industry is generally confident and believes it can weather the storm. Chris Manners, sales director at TBS Boats, acknowledged that customers are taking longer to make decisions due to the cost of living, but stated that they are still buying boats.
The show not only serves as a trade event but also offers entertainment such as a beach area, live music, and paddleboarding. The SUP Company, which sells paddleboards, reported an increase in sales during the Covid pandemic and has continued to see strong demand. Tony Jones, managing director of the company, attributed the popularity of paddleboarding to its ease of use and accessibility, particularly in the south coast region with its beautiful waterways.
Overall, exhibitors at the Southampton International Boat Show remain positive about the industry’s future, despite the challenges posed by rising living costs. While customers may be taking longer to make purchasing decisions, there is still demand for boats and related products. The show continues to attract a significant number of visitors each year and offers a range of entertainment options alongside the trade exhibits. Paddleboarding, in particular, has seen a surge in popularity, driven by its simplicity and the accessibility of waterways in the south coast region.