MIAMI — Florida trade shows are among the regional wholesale markets that should see increased attendance because of the economy, according to organizers. They cite travel expenses as the main reason retailers may forgo New York, Vegas and European shows, save for the majors, and hit opportunities close to home.
James Costa, show director for Trafik, which occurs biannually at the Miami Beach Convention Center, said that regional shows make perfect sense for struggling stores. He counted 40 Southeastern boutique closings, including six in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2008, so Trafik plans to extend complimentary accommodations, gas cards and daytime catering to help independent stores.
“We’re doing everything we can to help these people, because if they fold, we all lose,” said Costa, predicting 350 vendors and a 15 to 20 percent increase on September’s attendance of 1,000 for the next event, to be held March 8 to 10.
The show will again move it’s dates to later than in past years, a tactic that met with success this past September.
“We had success moving our August show to September in 2008, so March also will follow Coterie and Vegas for the first time,” Costa said.
After experiencing decreased attendance at her October 2008 trade show following the market crash, Coast founder Karen Bennett looks forward to a possible economic stimulus package by the Obama administration before her next round, scheduled for March 9 to 10 at the Savoy Hotel in Miami Beach. She expects approximately 130 vendors, 15 to 20 percent new additions, as well as returning collections like Rebecca Taylor and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, and showrooms like The Green Room NYC, Agent Icon and Lily Kate.
“It’s mixed emotions now. Everyone’s cautious, but retailers need product, and vendors need accounts,” said Bennett, who plans to target within the region — particularly North Florida stores.
Material World & Technology Solutions is scheduled to celebrate its 10th anniversary in Miami Beach at the city’s convention center from April 21 to 23, according to president Tim Von Gal. With an 11 percent attendance increase last year, he’s optimistic for 2009 despite the economy.
“We’re already hearing good feedback, because trade shows give tangible results,” he said, adding that he plans to announce new exhibitors and other show changes soon.
A new layout featuring the show’s 450 booths fanning out around the technology section is designed to encourage exploration, Von Gal said. An alliance with the American Apparel & Footwear Association, greater green product representation and trend pavilion collaborations with Pantone and Stylesight will continue as well.
Surf Expo is scheduled to commence its 33rd year Jan. 14 to 17 at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center, with 850 to 875 vendors. Newcomers will include Synergy Organics, a green line; Kiss the Girl vintage-inspired apparel, and NYS sunglasses. Improvements to the show will include expanding sections such as coastal home/accessories and fashion-forward, and debuts of a fashion show on the main aisle and Action Sports Environmental Coalition’s eco-friendly exhibit.
“This year’s focus is making buyers aware they can shop multiple categories unlike other shows,” said show director Roy Turner, adding that buyer preregistration is up nearly 6 percent from November 2008. “Retailers tell us the economy is prompting efficient orders, and trade shows have been a top method.”
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