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Is Heavy Foot Traffic An Indicator Of A Successful Market?

Walking around High Point Market last week, exhibitors told me that traffic was way up, new introductions (if they had any) were well-received, and dealers were ready to buy.

From one reporter’s point of view, the traffic did seem up—especially when looking at the crowded entrances of the buildings—and many exhibitors told me that this market felt like a step in the right direction when it comes to a return to normalcy. 

The HPMA also said at a meeting during market that attendance from individual buying companies as of late Tuesday was up 3.3% from October and down 19.2% from the fall of 2019. Attendance from individuals, also as of late Tuesday, was up 4.4% from October, and down 17.2% from October 2019 —which was the best-attended market.

Keep in mind, these figures are based on pre-registrations and on-site registrations at market, and actual attendance figures won’t be released for a few more weeks.

So if you ask me—and likely many others in the industry— what I know, it’s that I don’t know. 

Is traffic really up, or does it just seem that way because there hasn’t been a “real” market in two years?

Traditionally, a lot of people determine the amount of traffic by how many people are waiting by the elevators in the IHFC building or how many people are on Main Street on the Saturday morning of market. 

There weren’t long lines at the IHFC elevators like there used to be—the ones that you had to wait 5-10 minutes for sometimes—but the streets seemed fairly packed by the middle of the day from Saturday to Monday.

Were the elevators empty because many big retailers had already bought product at Premarket or earlier? Were the streets full because the market is leaning toward a majority interior designer audience?

Probably. 

Markets, as The FAM talked to a few industry experts about in the past, are changing, and the spring High Point Market this year felt very different from the past few markets.

So another question is, is this a false alarm?

Maybe the traffic this market is just a reaction to the years we’ve gone without markets. Maybe everyone just wanted to get out of their houses and see people again. As people, we crave human contact, and for some in our industry, it’s been a long time since they’ve been to what felt like a real market. 

And for that matter, is heavy traffic even an indicator of a successful market?

As Ray Allegrezza recently reported on, the many exhibitors he spoke with confirmed that this market was “clearly about the quality of the buyers here, not the quantity.”

The more we dive into this, the more questions arise. And hopefully, they will be answered over the next few markets as we see how the attendance changes and how the value of market shifts for each sector of the industry. 

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