Who’s Next-Première Classe: a 16% fall in show attendance
The ready-to-wear and accessories trade show Who’s Next – Première Classe was expecting a troubled edition, given the highly challenging context it was facing in early 2016, after 2015 was characterised by the Paris terrorist attacks and the industry's persistently gloomy business outlook. Regrettably, the show's attendance figures have justified these fears. Yet some encouraging signals must be reported, to mitigate the mere taking into account of the number of visitors.
The show organiser, WSN Développement, reported an attendance of 48,684 visitors during the show's four days, from 22nd to 25th January. The figure marked a 16% decline compared to the January 2015 edition, which recorded a stable trend. In detail, the French contingent's numbers, representing two thirds of total visitors, fell by about 12%, while international visitors decreased by 22%.
However, the organisers specified that the number of companies represented did not in itself decrease, crediting the decline to a reduction among the teams travelling to Paris, especially foreign ones. The fears generated by the November attacks in Paris in fact ensured that several companies, notably Asian ones, sent fewer buyers to the show. According to WSN Développement, the presence of Asian visitors thus decreased by 25%.
On the French side, where the decline was more marked among visitors from outside the capital, the November events' impact was equally felt, but the economic climate cannot of course be overlooked. The show also went hunting for retailers, and is looking to expand its 'IDFashion' initiative: special TGV fast trains liveried with the show's colours, conveying professionals coming from Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence. The trains could cater to new cities next season.
Nevertheless, in terms of VIP buyers (major accounts and renowned concept stores), Who’s Next – Première Classe reported some good news. Their presence is reportedly growing according to the organisers, who mention how foreign visitors are increasingly of the 'premium' type.
On the brands' side, many have indeed noted the great professionalism of such visitors. "I noticed that this season it was easier to acquire direct orders, a return to a more relaxed purchasing behaviour," remarked one of the exhibitors. Some of them regarded the business volume as satisfactory, though necessarily not outstanding. Many in fact viewed matters in perspective, reckoning that, given the current context, this edition has been far from catastrophic.
More frequently though, the show's attendance was criticised, one of the exhibitors going as far as to talk about a "decline" for a show that "cannot manage to bounce back." All the professionals were not so harsh however, and the expectation for a resurgence next September was nearly unanimous.
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