Following a survey of its universe of gift and home furnishings buyers and suppliers, International Market Centers (IMC) announced recently that it is postponing its summer 2020 markets in Atlanta and Las Vegas to August. The Atlanta Market now running August 13-18, 2020 , and the Las Vegas Market is now running August 30- September 3, 2020.
IMC surveyed 180,000-plus retailers and designers and nearly 6,000 manufacturers and sales agencies across the gift, home furnishings and apparel industries with results which were statistically significant. Retailer respondents expressed immediate need for inventory, preference for buying new product from existing vendors and intent to source both at physical markets and on digital platforms. Survey results also indicated that COVID-19-related concerns about travel sentiment and market attendance will decrease over time and with key health and safety mitigants. Additionally, the utility of digital tools for sourcing and preparing for in-person markets was cited by many.
IMC Expands Health and Safety Protocols
IMC’s COVID-19 response and remediation task force is developing thorough and detailed protocols for market production designed to ensure the health and safety of all those attending market. All back-to-business operating plans are being vetted to verify efficacy and identify best practices by Dr. Carlos del Rio, the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Professor of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health; and Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. Safety procedures are expected to include: the required use of personal protective equipment (PPE), temporal monitoring, social distancing, occupancy control, hand sanitizing/cleansing and significantly enhanced housekeeping protocols for cleaning and disinfecting our facilities. IMC is also collaborating with hotels and food and beverage partners to confirm and communicate special protocols; planning new pre-registration requirements to enable contactless market entry; and preparing for arrival and departure strategies to facilitate social distancing. Comprehensive details around onsite health and safety protocols will be promoted in advance of each market and will be updated regularly at www.togethersafely.com.
“We believe that with modifications to Atlanta Market and Las Vegas Market’s timing and format and implementation of rigorous health and safety protocols, IMC can deliver the markets our buyers need and are willing to attend,” said Bob Maricich, IMC CEO. “While we cannot currently gather in person, we look to meeting again at our markets this August.”
Survey Responses Reveal State of the Industry, Need for Digital as Complementary Resource for Recovery
In planning for summer markets, IMC commissioned Stax, an independent global strategy consulting firm, to administer a survey to provide a real-time representation of buyer and vendor perspectives during COVID-19. The survey sought to understand the conditions of their businesses, recovery expectations, market sentiments and use of digital tools. The respondents were a statistically significant cross-section of IMC’s customer base, with appropriate representations of both demographics and industry sector.
“We recognize that our decisions do not impact just our business, but the business of the hundreds of thousands of manufacturers, sales organizations, retailers, designers, logistic managers, hotels, restaurants and more who are a part of our markets,” added Maricich. “We approached our decision through sound research and will give our partners the same opportunity by releasing the results of our survey through a detailed white paper next week. We hope this survey can bring some clarity to the current state of the industry and allow for better planning as we all move towards recovery.”
In addition to sharing their need for new product and preferred timing for trade shows, survey respondents also indicated a desire for increased use of digital tools to support product sourcing and enrichment of their market experience. While they do not see digital markets as a viable replacement for physical markets, buyers are interested in tools that will allow for additional brand discovery and more efficient at-market purchasing.
Looking Beyond Summer to Fall Markets
Over the next several weeks, open daily resources are expected to reopen to the retail and design communities with enhanced health and safety protocols in Atlanta (ADAC and AmericasMart), Las Vegas and High Point. Additional information regarding open daily protocols can be found on facility websites.
Additional IMC gift and home markets through the end of the year include:
Fall Design Week – September 21- September 23, 2020 at AmericasMart® Atlanta;
October High Point Market – October 17- October 21, 2020;
And, Fall Cash & Carry – November 3- November 5, 2020, at AmericasMart Atlanta.
For more information on IMC, visit www.IMCenters.com.