SALT LAKE CITY, UT (BRAIN)—After a beautiful day of winter product demos at Backcountry Base Camp and four packed days of meetings and exhibits, participants of the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show expect the outdoor market to maintain strength through the economic downturn.
This feeling continues to be part of the general mentality as the show added more than 110 new exhibitors and new areas/events to better meet its attendee and exhibitors business needs.
Despite these efforts, however, preliminary show numbers indicate the softening of the market did effect show numbers both in the number of attendees (approximately 16,500 attendees) and sold floor space (330,000 net-sold, square-feet). The overall attendance numbers were "down slightly," a decrease of approximately five percent from last year's Winter Market turnout.
"Historically, the outdoor industry has done well in economic downturns, and this trend appears to be holding true today as our overall numbers are down only slightly from last year's Winter Market," said Kenji Haroutunian, Outdoor Retailer show director. "Although some manufacturers and retailers sent fewer people to this year's show, the right exhibitors and buyers were in attendance, and orders were definitely being written on the show floor. I met several new retail attendees who were really surprised at the depth and quality of exhibitors at OR."
Many attending retailers agreed the show continued to be "the place to be" to do business for the coming year.
"Retailers need to be here," said Norman Cavallaro, president of Saybrook, Connecticut's North Cove Outfitters and winner of the 2009 SNEWS Backbacker 'Retailer of the Year Award.' "I come here to talk with people about what's new both from a business standpoint and product standpoint. Besides doing business with current suppliers, I also come here to do business with new suppliers. I require that each of my staff find at least one new product from a new company, and they did and more."