As shoppers cautiously return to stores, buyers are geared up for the fall II-holiday market taking place downtown June 12 to 16.
This story first appeared in the May 21, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Shoppers are back. My business has picked up in May beyond 50 percent,” said retailer Hilary Rush, who operates a boutique on Los Angeles’ West Third Street. “I was really smart and safe with my late fall money, so I think I am going to do quite a bit of buying.”
Rush believes the closures of several neighboring boutiques also may have contributed to the increase in her business, as well as the wedding, baby shower and graduation season.
For fall and holiday, she plans to scout party dresses and novelty accessories, like scarves, which are popular gifts in her store.
Besides stopping by regular showrooms, Heather Martin, buyer and general manager of Belle Gray boutiques, will shop for short boots at the Transit shoe show and accessories at ENK’s Brighte Companies show.
“I don’t know that you can go wrong with scarves, hats and belts. Customers can buy an accessory to update their wardrobe and not feel guilty.”
It’s likely other buyers are also feeling a boost ahead.
“We are positive, and our preregistration numbers are up,” said Joanne Lee, senior vice president of the California Market Center, home to Los Angeles Fashion Market, Focus, Transit, Gift & Home, L.A. Fashion and ENK’s Brighte Companies shows. “In April, the numbers were lower than expected, but we are doing aggressive outreach on the road to bring retailers in. The economy is suffering, but toward the end of year, it’s going to pick up.”
The CMC is working to upgrade the look of the Focus and Transit shows, held in its Penthouse level with new fixtures, tables and chairs. The two shows offer exhibitors a relatively affordable way — a 10-foot-by-10-foot booth costs $900 — to display to West Coast buyers during market week.
It’s a business strategy attracting many first-time exhibitors to both shows. Focus this season includes 11 first-timers, upping the roster to about 60, more than double its size when the show launched.
“It was always meant to be a show for emerging and indie L.A. designers,” said Lee. Starting with the August market, there also will be free seminars on topics ranging from merchandising stores to using social networking sites to drive business. They will be held in conjunction with the trade shows.
Because even small measures make a difference to budget-conscious retailers, on select Tuesdays known as “Market Tuesdays,” buyers will find discounts on orders from CMC tenants or free shipping, as well as free parking.