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Emerald’s Surf Expo Records 21% Gain in Attendance from Last January’s Show; High Level of Engagement Reported by Exhibitors

Image from Surf Expo in January of 2023

ORLANDO, Fla. — Surf Expo, the world’s largest and longest-running watersports, beach, and resort lifestyle trade show, reported strong growth for its January 2023 show. Held Jan. 4-6 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., the Emerald-produced show was larger than its September edition, experiencing a 21% year-over-year gain in attendance and welcoming more than 8,500 industry professionals. 

The latest show featured more than 4,100 qualified buyers from the U.S. and more than 750 brands.  

“It is exciting to see the retail buyers return to Surf Expo,” Roy Turner, Surf Expo SVP and Show Director, said. “Even with the show dates falling on the first week of the New Year, board sports and coastal market retailers traveled to Orlando from all over the U.S. and from more than 60 countries. They came to write business and the energy level on the floor was amazing.”

The surf section was larger than at the September show, including 27 new exhibitors in the section. Many of the brands were attending their first trade show, including Former and Rivvia Projects, and surfboard maker Misfit Shapes M/SF/T.  

Related. Emerald’s Surf Expo is on Track to by Expand 20%

“In addition to our growing buyer base, we also welcomed more than 100 new exhibiting brands to the show floor. We look forward to continuing our growth heading into our September 2023 event,” Turner said.

“As independents, we like to think of ourselves as pioneers and as the heartbeat of the retail landscape,” Jim Archibald, Owner of Archie’s Surf Shop in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada, said. “Having these niche brands really arms us in battle in this evolving market. Hopefully these newer, small- to medium-sized companies will be the big brands of tomorrow. This show is great at giving them a better chance to showcase their wares.”  

Other retailers valued the opportunity for face-to-face meetings with brand executives, with some reporting having met more than 100 retailers in the two-and-a-half-day span of the show. “We definitely had a productive show,” Timothy McKevlin, Owner of McKevlin’s Surf Shop in Folly Beach, SC., said. “It’s always valuable to meet with brands in person – especially since that has been a challenge in the last two and a half years.” 

Surf Expo hosted free professional learning labs and multiple fashion shows in addition to the busy show floor. “As a new brand into our third year, this was our busiest show we have had since we launched I-SEA,” Don Dyer, Vice President of Sales for I-SEA, said. “Tons of retailers showed up to write business. We saw over 130 retailers in two and a half days. This was the best Expo I have seen in the last eight years.”  

Surf Expo will return to the Orange County Convention Center Sept. 7-9, 2023.  

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