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Attendance Solid at Shows

Reports from fairs in Nuremberg and New York show continued confidence for toy and hobby products

By Hal Miller
Published: March 9, 2011
While some sectors of the economy are facing a rocky recovery, the toy and hobby industry appears confident, if recent show numbers are any indicator.

Organizers of both the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, and the American International Toy Fair in New York reported attendance up slightly — at least for buyers and retailers — for their shows in February.

According to information from Nuremberg, approximately 79,000 visited the show Feb. 3–8, vs. about 76,600 in 2010. Organizers had expected attendance to this year’s show to be flat or slightly down. Exhibitors were up slightly also, to 2,683 from 2,625 last year.

The German news site Sueddeutsche.de reported fair manager Ernst Kick as saying he is “very satisfied” with the results.

Representatives from several U.S. hobby companies who attended the show reported the event had good energy and attendance, but there was a marked decrease in the number of American companies exhibiting. When asked to square that with the improved numbers, several attributed it to a faster economic recovery in Europe and Asia.

Additionally, while show organizers reported 1 million products at the show with 70,000 of them new, visitors in the traditional categories reported the continuing trend of products  produced from existing tooling.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, the 108th Toy Fair in New York reported year-to-date increases in attendance, including overall visitors (excluding guests) (+2%; 15,335), international attendance (+17%; 2,299), international buyers (+8%; 1,534) and manufacturer’s reps (+19%; 1,933).

In all, organizers of the show said 10,305 buyers came from 91 countries, and the number of trade guests was up.

“The show looked as professional and upscale as usual,” said Hobby Manufacturers Association President Mike Bass, owner of distributor Stevens International. “Energy was high, excitement by the exhibitors as well as the buyers was there, and interest seemed good.”

“We saw a robust and steady stream of order-writing and deal-making on the show floor,” said Marian Bossard, VP of meetings and events at the Toy Industry Association.

Organizers report more than 5,900 unique retail outlets — as well as representatives from 21 of the top 25 toy retailers in the U.S. and 45 of the top 250 retailers worldwide — sent personnel to the show to see the product offerings from nearly 1,100 exhibitors.

The 2012 dates for the Nuremberg show are Feb. 1–6; the 109th New York Toy Fair will be February 12–15.
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