THE HAGUE – The 2020 Boot Düsseldorf will likely lure some 250,000 visitors. Petros Michelidakis, the show’s director, speaks of packed halls and 200 new exhibitors yet his fingers are crossed as economic forecasts turn darker.
At a recent meeting in The Hague with a bevy of Dutch and Belgian yachting media types Michelidakis stressed “I don’t think we’re in danger.” Yet he worries about the economy, as does Jürgen Tracht, head of Germany’s watersports lobby BVWW.
The mood of German consumers is of prime interest to the Dutch boating sector which will dispatch 25 builders and 86 suppliers to Düsseldorf.
“The water sports industry had a good start this year,” said Tracht. “But while business sentiment was rated positive in 2017 by some 87%, it has dropped to 74%. Discussions with boat builders and dealers show rising skepticism. A cyclical downturn cannot be ruled out.”
Tracht cited German government data that – after a decade of good growth – points to economic growth of only 0.5% in 2019. GfK Germany’s largest market research institute – does no cartwheels either. It sees consumer confidence dropping. It cites a global economic downturn, trade frictions, the Brexit mess and job losses in the car sector and financial markets, for example.
“Optimism is dwindling,” says GfK. “Consumer confidence has fallen to its lowest level since November 2016. Nevertheless, private consumption will remain an important pillar for the German economy this year – assuming current crises do not escalate further.”