The Atlanta Market Winter 2021 Show, which opened Tuesday, Jan. 12, is wrapping up today (Tuesday, Jan. 19) with exceptional results.

In a Zoom media meeting this morning, Dorothy Belshaw, IMC’s executive vice president, chief customer & marketing officer, said “the Winter market was a giant step forward” in making headway in the recovery from the obstacles caused by the pandemic. She and IMC’s CEO, Bob Maricich, noted that buyers and sellers at the show have been very optimistic, creating “momentum and energy.” Show attendees have found long overdue inspiration after so many months battling the pandemic conditions.

Many vendors said that sales exceeded their expectations, showroom traffic was strong, and buyers were confident. According to preliminary show stats, “the average order size was 20%-50% higher than in 2020.”

Buyers were enthusiastic about the return of temporaries. Four hundred temp booths were carefully spaced to ensure adequate social distancing and traffic flow. Attendees were very cooperative with COVID-19 protocols, creating a safe, confident vibe throughout.

IMC executives pointed out that the show’s success demonstrates that physical markets are crucial to the industry and to vendor and retailer revenue. The pandemic revealed the importance of “face to face” engagement, as well as the benefit of being able to physically handle merchandise.

As expected, sales at the show reflected consumer trends, showing strong sales in home décor and decorative accessories, housewares and tabletop, and home-focused consumables such as gourmet. The seasonal and holiday categories had a strong showing as well.

Ongoing issues with the supply chain have created a big demand for immediate inventory, as buyers are eager to place orders and fill their shelves as soon as possible.

Other show statistics show the surprising magnitude of the recovery:

  • The show experienced a 158% increase in attendance over August 2020
  • 90% of showrooms were open compared to 70% in August
  • Tenants reported sales had recovered to 70-80% of pre-pandemic sales
  • The show attracted many new attendees, with 22% of buyers attending for the first time, which is double the typical percentage of new buyers at the market.
  • Buyers came from 21 countries
  • All but one region outside the Southeast had greatly increased attendance, ranging from two to five times August show attendance

Omnichannel Sales Opportunities

IMC is playing an industry-leading role in creating a convenient, online B2B sales channel to connect buyers and sellers. Eric Dean, executive vice president & president of IMC_di, is spearheading the development of JuniperMarket, IMC’s B2B digital marketplace, which is scheduled to launch in 90 days. The initiative has been extremely popular, filling a niche in the market created by expanding demand for 24/7 access to merchandise. The effort was already underway before the pandemic struck, but the lockdowns greatly increased demand. IMC sped up project development to make its full array of services available this spring. Adoption of the online service is expected to grow exponentially. More than 7,000 buyers have registered since January 1.

The future is bright for Atlanta Market, as it remains the largest gift and home show in the U.S. The market will be open year-round through its permanent showrooms and JuniperMarket digital sales.