ORLANDO, Fla. -- According to information released by the American Sportfishing Association, the 2012 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) was a huge success. It reported a total of 9,000 attendees, which includes 3,000 buyers and more than 760 media representatives. Overall, there was a 23 percent increase in attendance and a 25 percent increase in buyers.
Those numbers are in comparison to 2009, the last time the show was in Orlando. Of course, 2009 was one of the worse economic years in our country’s history, save for the Great Depression. Still, that’s a strong increase and it says something about fishing, and about our country.
The increase is in part a tribute to the American Sportfishing Association’s hard work to make the show a success and to help the companies in our industry be successful. Its work is absolutely necessary and much appreciated by the industry. Without ASA, we’d be in bad shape.
But, no matter how hard its officials work, or how good of a job the ASA does putting together ICAST, numbers like those are not possible without consumer demand and a healthy interest in fishing around the country. That’s where it all begins, and ends. You can’t sell anything unless someone wants to buy it.
In a quote released by the ASA on Friday, July 13, Jeff Marble, ASA chairman of the board and CEO of Frabill Inc., had this to say, "Business is healthy. Retailers are very upbeat and looking toward the future. I heard many positive comments about the show.
“There is also a positive feeling about ASA's leadership, the board of directors and the Show Committee. We will always have challenges, but we feel confident about the future.”
That sentiment was nearly universal across the floor at ICAST this year and was most definitely shared by Gary Remensnyder, president of Lew’s. He reports that demand was so strong at the Lew’s booth that he had trouble spending time on the floor like he usually does. Nevertheless, most of what he’s seeing points to a positive year for the industry.
“Demand was strong in the first and second quarters of this year. The early spring and the excitement over the umbrella rig helped, but I also think things are getting better overall in the industry,” he said shortly after the show. “We might be seeing a little softening in the last two or three weeks, but I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for the third and fourth quarters and on into next year.
“It’s just a healthy conservatism and a response to the extreme heat we’ve experienced recently. A lot of retailers have had a good spring and they want to be careful about overstocking inventory. At the same time, with the heat the way it’s been, a lot of people wanted to be in the water with the fish, not on top of it trying to catch them.”
So, there you have it: One view from the organizational level and one from the manufacturing and sales level. They both say basically the same thing. ICAST 2012 was a good show, and the demand for fishing products is reasonably solid right now and is expected to stay that way into the future.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who was there. Crowded aisles, groups of attendees in front of every booth and a general good cheer say the same thing. Our industry is strong and getting stronger. That’s the good news from ICAST 2012.