Show organizers said that attendance for Coverings 2008, held April 29 to May 2 in Orlando, Fla., fell slightly from 37,000 to 35,000 showgoers compared to last year’s event in Chicago. However, Coverings management added that attendance was up 3.8 percent over the last outing in Orlando, in 2006. Organizers said the increase in Orlando attendance points to the “hardiness” of the tile and stone segment in the area.

“We knew it was a challenge to try and repeat or top the numbers we achieved last year in Chicago,” said Glenn Feder, president of show management company National Trade Productions. “But this year’s number has to be interpreted as a bellwether for the building industry. Though there’s a slowdown, there’s no standstill.”

He added that while the housing market was still challenging, “there’s still plenty of construction, remodeling, opportunities and needs for tile and stone.”

Compared to 2006 numbers, 56.6 percent more remodelers/contractors and 41 percent more commercial builders attended the show this year. Additionally, architect and designer numbers rose about 40 percent, partly due to a “Bring Your Client” program where members of the A&D community were encouraged to bring VIP clients to the show for free.

While attendance was only slightly down, the show’s board of directors announced that they would hold off from opening a “Coverings L.A. Boutique” show planned for Nov. 19-20 in Long Beach, Calif. The show would have been the first Coverings event on the West Coast. No new dates have been announced yet.

“We know we’ve disappointed many exhibitors who had signed on for November,  but the board agreed that it would be prudent to hold off until the economic climate is a little calmer and more stabilized,” Feder said.