SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – At the annual Outdoor Retailer Winter Market show, record buyer attendance and high energy kicked off the new year for the outdoor industry.

A 20 percent increase in preregistration figures led to a 10.5 percent boost in buyer attendance at the show. The world’s largest outdoor industry trade show drew 14,965 to the event despite harsh winter travel conditions in many parts of the country.

“This market has clearly reached a point where it can deal with small bumps in the road like bad weather,” said Dieter Tremp, Outdoor Retailer Show Director. “It’s a testament to the commitment and competency of the business people in the outdoor world.”

New technology, design innovation and scores of new products were on display throughout the show’s 2,600 booths, as almost 800 exhibitors provided heavy competition in the marketplace. Companies at the outdoor show also received significant attention from the investment community, as venture capitalists and investment analysts walked the aisles among the retailer crowd.

Matching the high level of quality in outdoor goods at the show was the collection of increasingly savvy retail buyers.

“Buyers are definitely becoming more sophisticated,” said Heidi McCrory of K2 Snowboards. “They understand technical fabrics now, and they’re on the lookout for what’s truly new.”

Geoffery Lurie, CEO of The North Face agreed that buyers in attendance were better educated regarding the business aspects of the outdoor industry.

“Retailers are getting more and more sophisticated, they’re controlling inventory. In fact, both the retailers and manfacturers are looking at productivity, cost-cutting, (and) ways to be more effective in business,” said Lurie.

The Winter Market show began with the OnSnow Demo, last Thursday and Friday at the Park City Mountain Resort. The booth show opened Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, and ran through Tuesday, Feb. 1.

At the conclusion of the first day, the Outdoor Retailer Industry Party drew more than 2,000 Winter Market attendees, including luminaries such as Conrad Anker who was on hand for a tribute to climber Alex Lowe, who died last year. After the event, Anker praised the community of companies that comprise the outdoor industry.

“I think our industry is wonderful to be in, because we’re not just selling gadgets, we’re selling the healthy lifestyle that will help people live longer lives,” said Anker.

The bright future of the industry is supported by recent developments in Washington, D.C., where Congress appears to be poised to pass the Land and Water Conservation Act which will greatly enhance protection of the enviornment, outdoor lifestyles and recreational opportunities which are at the core of the outdoor industry. The act would release $2.8 billion for conservation efforts.

“I love coming to this show,” said Paul Delorey, CEO of JanSport. “The human karma bank here is loaded. I think it’s a great time to be in this business because never before have people needed the outdoors as much as they do now.”

Media interest soared at Winter Market as more than 400 members of the working press covered the event for mainstream, trade and core sporting media. A strong fashion presence was led by Vogue and Wallpaper magazines, and television crews from local, regional and national networks were on hand to get a sneak peak at the hottest outdoor clothing and gear for next winter.

The Outdoor Retailer Winter and Summer Market shows are the world’s largest outdoor industry trade shows. Outdoor Retailer Magazine, published since 1980, is the leading publication for the outdoor marketplace.