January 20, 2021
IMC’s Atlanta Market experiences successful buying event
On Jan. 19, 2021, IMC held a Zoom conference that detailed the robust buying experience exhibitors had at Atlanta Market. According to Bob Maricich, Atlanta Market was a “giant step forward!”
“Expectations were realistic and optimistic … broadly, Market exceeded everyone’s expectations,” noted Maricich. “The amount of buying, by all measures from what we are hearing from tenants, expectations were exceeded.”
Maricich also explained that cash and carry as well as antiques were popular due to the availability of immediate delivery.
“It really felt like the Market was back … it was also inspirational,” Dorothy Belshaw said. “This Market everyone wanted to get back to face-to-face.”
Belshaw noted that Atlanta Market offers 22 buying events and a market that is open year-round for 2021. “Year round traffic is currently at 70% of normal open daily traffic, reflective of buyers in the region and want to come at off market time to conduct business,” Belshaw emphasized.
Belshaw also shared that as of attendance on Jan. 18, Atlanta Market shows recovery from summer. The January market was 158% above attendance numbers of the August show. “By day 2, we already surpassed the August attendance.
“There were 400 temporary exhibits, smaller than what we are used to, but it was what we felt we could do safely,” Belshaw said. She also noted that displays were back as were events, albeit smaller events and gatherings, as no large events were held due to safety concerns.
“The 400 temps were configured for social distancing. Tenants reported sales at 70-80% of pre-pandemic levels, compared January to January. Some had met and exceeded sales as well,” Belshaw said. “Most vendors feel it will be a strong year for business.”
Market Buying Trends
IMC noted that home décor was a high performing category and Atlanta Market saw the start of buying groups and multipliers returning to market. Belshaw noted four buying groups came back for this market and most are slated to return for summer.
“Showroom traffic has been strong and productive, not at normal levels, but the average orders were 20-50% higher than 2020,” Belshaw said. “A vast majority of buyers were here to place orders.” She also noted that “most tenants felt it was normal … or as close to since March 2020.”
Buyers had a strong interest in home décor and decorative accessories, and seasonal, holiday, gourmet food, tabletop and consumables — candles, soaps, etc. — also performed well at Market as well.
IMC also shared that retailers are expanding into gourmet food and outdoor merchandise to reflect the desire to enhance home living and now working space during the pandemic, and that trend is expected to continue. Additionally, the toys, games and puzzle categories performed well. “Anything that enhances the time at home is rebounding quite nicely,” Belshaw said.
In light of continued supply chain issues, “the need for immediate inventory is still strong,” emphasized Belshaw. Maricich reinforced the need of immediate availability. “Anyone who has inventory in North America is in a strong position,” he said.
According to IMC the demand is there, yet challenges such from port congestion to the ability to get output from factories and containers is an ongoing issue, but “as long as there is a demand, there is an opportunity.”
Around this time last year, IMC announced its Digital Innovations and shared information about its Juniper brand in the summer of 2020. “It has been quite a year,” Eric Dean said. Since Jan. 1, 7, 000 new buyer registrations have been completed on the Juniper Market, which is now under 90 days until it is launched.
Looking Ahead to Las Vegas
IMC was asked about Las Vegas Market and if that market will implement or change anything based upon the experiences at Atlanta Market. Belshaw noted that “buyers and sellers have different levels of comfort returning to markets,” and that because of a variety of local and state restrictions IMC opted to postpone the summer market. Overall, Belshaw noted that the “importance of optionality” is critical right now for any market.
Overall, Belshaw shared that the Atlanta Market was robust, even during pre-market. “We are seeing attendance coming in differently because of confidence levels. We anticipate Las Vegas will be a strong market,” she said.