Greetings Today magazine, giving you the bigger picture

Spring Fair attendance hits 5 year high

Spring Fair organiser, Emap Connect, says that the 2011 show attracted its highest attendance for five years as 74,000* retailers from around the UK and overseas flocked to the NEC for the country’s premier trade exhibition.

The ABC audited figure over the five days is the largest number of retailers to visit Spring Fair since 2006.

Emap says it invested £1 million in the show this year, which included new features and content, including: Two catwalks, the Trend House and Café, a Toy Demo Area, a Tasting Table in the Gift Food & Confectionary zone, the Graffiti and Lifestyle bars, links between halls and a new VIP entrance.

Emap Connect Home & Gift MD, Louise Young, said: “Visitors embraced the changes we made this year and we are delighted that new features such as The Trend House and Fashion Accessories catwalk proved such a hit.” She also said that feedback from the show floor had been overwhelmingly positive and that retailers and exhibitors had welcomed the new covered walkway between Halls 9 and 5.

“There is no doubt that this increased crossover buying and eased visitor flow around the exhibition. These are important elements as we move towards Spring Fair 2012 and an even more vibrant and inspiring event that will fill the whole of the NEC. Our customers are ready for a fresh, new change and are embracing the re-edit for next year, which will result in a bigger show with clear product zoning and more new and innovative features (see below).”

On the visitor side, independent retailer Susan Miller of Rainbow in Keswick really enjoyed the show: “We always come to Spring Fair”, she commented. “We do all our buying here or at Autumn Fair and have come down to the NEC for four nights. This year it has been absolutely brilliant. Without doubt this is the best place to find new product and I much prefer visiting an exhibition than trying to do business with reps on the shop floor.

“It’s mainly upmarket gifts that we sell but greetings cards are our bread and butter, we have 20 card spinners in the store. The greetings card hall here is fabulous: we spent a whole day in there and found some really nice new publishers.”

Trevor Jones of calendar specialist Danilo also felt it was a particularly strong exhibition, saying on the Wednesday afternoon: “We’ve had a very, very positive show. We got our first buyer on the stand at ten past nine on Sunday morning and I’m only just going for lunch now!”

Andrew Illingworth of Gift Category Partner Widdop Bingham said: “We came with a degree of reserved optimism and we’ve been rewarded with fantastic support and have done great business here. I can’t remember a Sunday and Monday at Spring Fair when we were as busy. Our customers are also being positive and they aren’t just browsing, they are placing orders; we’ve also had lots of enquiries via the website.”

Discussing the proposed changes for 2012, Andrew added: “I like change and so I’m all for it. You’ve got to look at it as being a great positive – anything that makes it easier for customers to buy can only be a good thing.”

New exhibitor and Design Quarter Gem Katie Rowland, was equally happy. “What’s really nice is the access I’ve had here to all the small independents. I hadn’t ventured much past the M25 before so it’s unknown territory, but I’ve met a lot of really nice boutiques.

“I’m also looking at breaking into international markets so the Meet the Buyers scheme has worked really well for me. I’ve had some very good conversations with people and found quite a few who are interested in working with me. It’s really quite exciting, I think this will enable me to grow the international side of my business.”

International visitors accounted for 10 per cent of the total attendance and as part of a major drive and investment to make Spring Fair the undisputed hub of the global as well as the domestic retail trade, the international visitor programme was greatly extended for the 2011 exhibition.

Four international events were held at the fair, including the inaugural International Retail Associations Meeting, and the International Group of Department Stores AGM, with invaluable contributions from other Emap brands, World Retail Congress, Planet Retail, Retail Week and WGSN.

2012 changes

Emap announced a revamp of the hall layout for 2012 with significant changes aimed at making Hall 9 the lynchpin of the Gift and Home element of the show.

Greetings along with Art & Framing is set to move to Hall 4, while the main Gift areas including Volume, Home and Contemporary will shift to Halls 5, 6 , 7, 10,11 and 12. Toys and Party will be found in Hall 3 (bordering into 4). The Jewellery Show will take place across Halls 17, 18, 19 and 20. Emap claims the new layout will improve visitor flow, provide greater crossover buying opportunities and will incorporate much more seating for visitors, while still allowing for growth.

*Subject to final audit. Spring Fair International, The Jewellery Show and Autumn Fair International are the only ABC audited home and gift retail trade exhibitions in the UK.

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