LOS ANGELES — The Las Vegas trade show scene has grown quickly, but it hasn’t been immune to the down economic times.
At MAGIC International, show producer of MAGIC, WWDMAGIC and MAGIC Kids in Las Vegas, show officials concede that the last two years have been difficult for the biannual trade shows.
But thanks to increased investment in sales and marketing efforts, business “has performed considerably well,” said a spokeswoman.
This year, MAGIC’s retail relations department plans to visit “an unprecedented” 6,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada in an effort to drive attendance to the upcoming fall edition, scheduled for Aug. 25-28 in Las Vegas.
Show producers say they are not concerned that other ways of doing business, including online showrooms and individual buying trips, are posing any threats and believe more than ever in the relevance of trade shows.
“Face-to-face opportunities are key,” said the spokeswoman, noting 93 percent of MAGIC buyers make purchases as a result of attending the show. Buyers also come to spot trends, discover new resources and compare looks, “which is impossible to accomplish in private meetings,” she added.
There are still areas of growth, including dresses and outerwear, that are chipping away at space formerly occupied by moderate and better resources. Urban and swim resources are picking up steam, with urban label JLo by Jennifer Lopez and swim labels Gottex and Apparel Ventures. Accessories and gift resources also are expected to take larger booths in August.
WWDMAGIC has spawned splinter shows in Las Vegas, with show organizers hoping to capitalize on the masses in town for MAGIC.
The International Swim & Activewear Market, or ISAM, will hold its first Las Vegas show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, concurrent with WWDMAGIC.
ISAM director Barbara Brady explained the changes of venue, from Los Angeles, and date as an effort to expose the 150 companies registered this year to the international and corporate buyers who make the trip for MAGIC. The former ISAM show held in October tended to draw more local specialty store buyers and was suffering from what buyers and exhibitors characterized as lack of relevance because it happened so late in the buying season.
POOL, the indie new kid on the block, has shown strong growth for a small show that originated when independent rep Ronda Walker, the show organizer, noticed that many young designers were showing out of hotel rooms during MAGIC. The curated show, which attracts mostly high-end specialty stores and Japanese buyers looking for edgy T-shirts and sportswear, has grown nearly 50 percent with each of its first three runs, swelling to 120 vendors.
For its fourth show next month at Alexis Park Convention Hall, Walker has added a shoe show that will double the size of the selling floor.
Tough times are when the Off-Price Specialist Show thrives, according to show producers. The demand for lower-priced goods has been so strong that the show, produced four times a year, added another Las Vegas edition in May. The show runs Aug. 22-26 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, with a capacity of 400 exhibitors.
“Smaller and regular-priced stores are becoming much more sophisticated on how to buy off-price,” said Robert Nordstrom, editor of Off-Price Apparel magazine, noting recent buyer registration has consistently been in the 10,000 range. “There is more preregistration this year. We expect a sold-out show.”
WomensWear in Nevada, after opening a new May show, will launch a Kids Show Aug. 25-27 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.
“The show is a response to the calls we got from people looking for children’s merchandise,” said WWIN organizer Jeff Yunis, noting he has commitments with 110 booths so far. “The first couple of exhibitors are tough to get, but once they hear the competition is coming, they’ll commit. If we’re able to get it off the ground in this tough economy, we have a chance.”
The event will focus on serving specialty stores in a no-frills atmosphere, similar to the WWIN show held Aug. 25-28, catering to the misses’ market.
New resourcing options are another weapon in the arsenal of apparel companies looking for market share, which has bode well for the ASAP Global Sourcing Show, held Aug. 24-27 in Las Vegas.
Exhibitor registration has grown 50 percent to 300 companies compared with last year, and the National Retail Federation has partnered with ASAP to provide a show seminar called “The New Sourcing Mandate: Communicate, Collaborate and Control,” presented by sourcing software provider Zweave.