International Market Centers (IMC) resumed market activity with a smaller, appointment-focused June Atlanta Apparel Market, presented June 10-13 at AmericasMart Atlanta. The buying event – IMC’s first since COVID-19 forced cancelation of its March and April apparel markets – debuted IMC’s Together Safely health and safety protocols.
“We are coming out of the June Atlanta Apparel Market with a renewed optimism for our business, our markets and economic recovery,” said Bob Maricich, IMC CEO. “We are proud that our exhibitors and buyers not only chose our market to do business but also embraced the hygiene and social distancing modifications that we made to the market.”
IMC reports better-than-expected overall attendance for the June Atlanta Apparel Market, with strong registration throughout the market. Retailers predominantly from the Southeast visited for multiple days during the four-day event. During the market, positive sentiments spread by word-of-mouth via social media posts from satisfied buyers and exhibitors enticed local and regional buyers to come for the latter days. The solid attendance indicates increased comfort and confidence levels surrounding market attendance since IMC surveyed its buyer and exhibitor universe in late April 2020.
Attending buyers were focused on serious order writing for much-needed Autumn/Winter 2020 and Holiday 2020 styles plus Summer immediates and select social occasion showrooms met between-season appointments.
“I was extremely hesitant about attending the Atlanta Apparel Market, but on arrival I felt completely safe,” said Kathy Carlstrom, owner of Country Classics in Glenview, Illinois. “Registration taking temperatures, health questions, hand sanitizers everywhere, face masks required and social distancing were all in place. I am looking forward to the next market.”
The debut of IMC’s Together Safely protocols was widely accepted and provided limited disruption to buying. All attendees were required to pre-register for the market to receive a digital badge that would be scanned for entry. Upon entering the building, all attendees, exhibitors, staff and vendors had their temperatures checked with contactless thermometers and were given stickers identifying that they had been screened for that day. IMC also provided PPE kits if retailers did not arrive with a mask. On the floors, signage reminded attendees to maintain six feet of distance from those not in their party. Additionally, the hard surfaces in the market center were continuously cleaned and plentiful hand sanitizer stations were available on the floors to encourage personal cleanliness. In the showrooms, tenants were expected to monitor and manage their spaces for compliance with safe distancing, prescribed occupancy restrictions, use of PPE and cleaning protocols.
In line with governmental capacity limits, social distancing guidelines and required safety protocols, the June Atlanta Apparel Market provided access to 1,000 lines in 400 showrooms – about 40% of its usual apparel line offerings – plus an additional 28 long-standing temporary brands which were showcased in adapted low density presentation across several open floors. Throughout the market, brands reported strong orders including those from new accounts opened at the show.
Anecdotally, permanent showrooms Andy Acers and Dressed 2 Kill reported seeing a high number of new buyers during this show. Regular temporary exhibitors HYFVE reported opening more than 27 new accounts and New Vintage reported that 90% of the customers it saw at market were new accounts.
Beyond exhibits, and in line with buyer sentiments, Atlanta Apparel shifted its hallmark at-market educational programming to be presented virtually during market. On IGTV, Fab’rik founder Dana Spinola shared how she and her more than 40 stores have navigated the crisis and shared words of encouragement. Webinars focused on both online and in-person success. Influencer and digital marketer Sabrina Nooruddin Molu of Simply Sabrina shared how to create compelling influencer marketing campaigns. Michelle Lamb of The Trend Curve and Leigh Ann Schwarzkopf of Project Partners Network explained how visual displays can impact profits. All webinars are available at americasmart.com/apparel-resources.
TJ Holmes of bridal and social occasion retailer The Something Blue Shoppe in Hartselle, Ala, said that the market was well organized and felt safe. He noted that “Atlanta Apparel did a lot of hard work to produce the market, and it showed.”