Following a comprehensive survey of apparel industry buyers and suppliers, International Market Centers (IMC) announced that Atlanta Apparel will resume its market calendar with all markets confirmed as scheduled beginning with the June Atlanta Apparel Market, June 10-13, at AmericasMart Atlanta. IMC also announced format changes for its June and August Atlanta Apparel Markets and plans to move educational programming and trend presentations online for upcoming markets.
IMC surveyed its entire buyer and supplier universe – 180,000+ retailers and designers and nearly 6,000 manufacturers and sales agencies across the gift, home furnishings and apparel industries – with results which were statistically significant. Retailer respondents expressed immediate need for inventory, preference for buying new product from existing vendors and intent to source both at physical markets and on digital platforms. Survey results also indicated that COVID 19-related concerns about travel sentiment and market attendance will decrease over time and with key health and safety mitigants. Additionally, the utility of digital tools for sourcing and preparing for in-person markets was cited by many.
“Through the survey, the apparel retail community indicated significant demand for product and a wish to source at markets this summer, as well as a clear concern about safety,” said Bob Maricich, IMC CEO. “We believe that with modifications to market format and implementation of rigorous health and safety protocols, IMC can deliver the markets our buyers need and are willing to attend.”
Updates to Market Offerings
Based on an immediate need for inventory due to seasonality of styles and strong regional drive-in base of buyers within the Southeast region, the Atlanta Apparel markets will maintain their original dates with some tradeshow modifications in June and August:
June Atlanta Apparel – June 10-13
Market will present permanent apparel showrooms only with no temporary exhibits.
World of Prom – August 3-7
August Atlanta Apparel – August 4-8
Temporaries will shift one day earlier to run August 4-6
VOW | New World of Bridal – September 15 – 17
October Atlanta Apparel – October 13 – 17
In the near term, Atlanta Apparel will present its signature trend and business education exclusively online. Educational content ranging from business building tips from tastemakers and thought leaders to information about how to prepare for market will be presented as webinars. An all new Atlanta Apparel website launching this summer will feature trend reports, look books, product galleries and highly improved brand and product search. As always, Atlanta Apparel’s active social media accounts will be a place to discover new styles and stay connected with the Atlanta Apparel community.
IMC Expands Health and Safety Protocols
IMC’s COVID-19 response and remediation task force is developing thorough and detailed protocols for market production designed to ensure the health and safety of all those attending market. All back-to-business operating plans are being vetted to verify efficacy and identify best practices by Dr. Carlos del Rio, the chair of the Department of Global Health and professor of epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health and professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. Safety procedures are expected to include: the required use of personal protective equipment (PPE), temporal monitoring, social distancing, occupancy control, hand sanitizing/cleansing and significantly enhanced housekeeping protocols for cleaning and disinfecting facilities. IMC is also collaborating with hotels and food and beverage partners to confirm and communicate special protocols, planning new pre-registration requirements to enable contactless market entry and preparing for arrival and departure strategies to facilitate social distancing. Comprehensive details around onsite health and safety protocols will be promoted in advance of each market and will be updated regularly at togethersafely.com.
Survey Responses Reveal State of the Industry, Need for Digital as Complementary Resource for Recovery
In planning for summer markets, IMC commissioned Stax, an independent global strategy consulting firm, to administer a survey to provide a real-time representation of buyer and vendor perspectives during COVID-19. The survey sought to understand the conditions of their businesses, recovery expectations, market sentiments and use of digital tools. The respondents were a statistically significant cross-section of IMC’s customer base, with appropriate representations of both demographics and industry sector.
“We recognize that our decisions do not impact just our business, but the business of the hundreds of thousands of manufacturers, sales organizations, retailers, designers, logistic managers, hotels, restaurants and more who are a part of our markets,” added Maricich. “We approached our decision through sound research and will give our partners the same opportunity by releasing the results of our survey through a detailed white paper next week. We hope this survey can bring some clarity to the current state of the industry and allow for better planning as we all move towards recovery.”
In addition to sharing their need for new product and preferred timing for trade shows, survey respondents also indicated a desire for increased use of digital tools to support product sourcing and enrichment of their market experience. While they do not see digital markets as a viable replacement for physical markets, buyers are interested in tools that will allow for additional brand discovery and more efficient at-market purchasing.