Gifts Today magazine

UK’s Autumn Fair set to flourish

2014 show shaping up well against backdrop of retail growth

Soaring demand from new and returning exhibitors has resulted in as much space already being booked and confirmed for the Home Interiors & Furniture sector at this year's event as there was when Autumn Fair International 2013 opened its doors last September.

As consumers increasingly leave seasonal buying – especially for Christmas – until the last minute, retailers are following suit in order to minimise their financial risk and optimise their ability to buy product that is on trend and already in stock from suppliers.

Portfolio director Nick Davison commented: “Autumn Fair is in great shape right now, it's growing significantly. We are already a couple of thousand metres ahead on bookings compared with the same time last year and have seen a 20 per cent rise in new exhibitors. There has also been a massive increase in rebooks from lapsed exhibitors.

“All this is indicative of both the strength of Autumn Fair and a welcome upswing in the retail market, along with further confirmation that buying patterns have changed tremendously over the past few years. Retailers – especially independents - want to buy little and often throughout the year in line with current trends and economic conditions, meaning that seasonal shows like Autumn Fair are increasingly important to them as prime sourcing events.”

The Seasonal Buying Report* commissioned by Autumn Fair organiser i2i Events Group revealed that over the past five years more than 60 per cent of retailers surveyed have reduced their level of budget available for forward orders. Department store buyers in particular (75%) have reduced their forward ordering commitments and 65% of independents are now buying closer to each relevant season. 60% of online retailers have reduced their forward orders.

Over 24% of retailers are holding back more than 50% of their budget to buy closer to the season, meaning that Autumn Fair – a key transactional buying event - is more important and relevant than ever in the changing retail landscape.

It's not all about Christmas, however. Chief executive of The Giftware Association, Isabel Martinson, commented: “Retailers don't just [stock up for] Christmas when they visit Autumn Fair. More and more GA members are finding that Halloween is becoming an increasingly important selling opportunity, as families in the UK buy into this American inspired occasion. And this is a show where they not only find all the spooky paraphernalia associated with Halloween, but great dress-up purchases too.”

'Right time, on trend, in stock', is the Autumn Fair mantra, and it doesn't fail to deliver on this promise. With over 40,000 new products to choose from across nine different market sectors and around 1,500 exhibitors, Autumn Fair is also a prime event for retailers to get a first preview of brand new products for crucial Spring seasons including Valentine's, Mother's Day, Easter and Father's Day.

With the consumer appetite for brand new products getting stronger by the season, retailers understand how vital it is to present their customers with something new and fresh on the shop shelves at every possible opportunity. By retaining parts of their budget to spend later in the year, they can optimise their chances of providing consumers with the hottest must-have products as soon as the manufacturers bring them to market.

As buying patterns evolve, so do the different market sectors represented at Autumn Fair. A particular upturn has been seen in the Home Interiors & Furniture sector, which now occupies all of Hall 2 and part of Hall 3, meaning that it will have its own themed entrance for the first time at the show.

New exhibitors for 2014 include Gallery Direct, Besp-oak Furniture and Camelot Pictures, who have exhibited at Spring Fair International for 33 years and decide to have a presence at Autumn Fair for the first time this year.

There has also been a marked increase in lapsed exhibitors returning to the exhibition, with major companies such as Hookes Interiors coming back to the fold in 2014.

Davison explains: “The international contingent within Home Interiors & Furniture at Autumn Fair is being led by suppliers such as Light & Living from The Netherlands, which has a regular presence at large mainland European trade shows and has now chosen Autumn Fair as its first ever launchpad into the UK market.

“The UK is a natural growth market for Dutch companies. Their products are very well received in the UK, they are in tune with what many British consumers are seeking right now. We have as much business from Holland already lined up for Autumn Fair now as we went to show with last year.”

The Greetings & Gift sector (Hall 4) is also doing well – again reflecting a strong consumer market - with renowned contemporary publishers such as Cardmix and Urban Graphic joining the exhibition for the first time this year.

Over in Gift, Home & Volume, located in Hall 1, major returning exhibitors already lined up for the show include Liverpool-based party giant Davies Products and clearance specialist Klyne & Klyne. They join bellwether companies such as Rayburn Trading Co, Tallon International, Ultimate Products and PMS International.

For more information on Autumn Fair International 2014 and to register for free visit the website:

*The survey was carried on in June 2013 of 230 independent retailers with less than four shops, Independents with up to ten shops, multiple retailers, department stores, mail order and online sellers.

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