After AGHA’s announcement last week cancelling its gift fair in Melbourne everyone was waiting to see what Reed Gift Fairs was going to do.
Earlier this year Reed Gift Fairs postponed its Sydney fair from February to April with great success, so it came as no surprise the organisers have taken this step again and moved the Melbourne fair from August to September.
With the current Covid situation Reed Gift Fairs had to act on the cautionary side with both exhibitors and attendees in mind, even though the event could’ve gone ahead as scheduled, says event director, Cory McCarrick.
“Prior to these recent outbreaks of Covid-19, we were optimistic that Reed Gift Fairs and Life Instyle Melbourne would run safely and successfully next month,” he says.
“While we continue to have permission to operate the event under our detailed Covid-safe plan with the venue and VIC government, with many of our community based interstate, border closures now mean they may be unable to attend at the end of the month.”
Indeed, the border closures seem to be one of the main concerns for exhibitors. “I think that like many exhibitors we were relieved by Reed’s decision,” says Artiwood managing director, Andrew McGregor. “Retailers we’d spoken to were unwilling to travel interstate this month. A postponement gives everything time to stabilise.
“However, there’s no escaping the fact that our decision remains a gamble. Like everyone we’re betting that a period of stability can rebuild confidence. We know people are keen to evaluate new offerings and network with industry colleagues again. We had a taste of this in April. The mood and the energy at Sydney’s gift fair were surprisingly positive. This bodes well for Melbourne’s show if the stars align in the weeks ahead.”
While Sheldon Mayer, managing director at Men’s Republic echoes this sentiment, he was looking forward to showcasing many new products they were planning to launch in August for Father’s Day.
“We understand the highs and lows of dealing with Covid, but we were really relying on this fair to ‘top off’ our Father’s Day sales with so many new and exciting lines to present to buyers and we purposely bought stock for this event, so there is another challenge,” he explains.
“However, we are a true believer and supporter of gift trade fairs where we can communicate ‘one-on-one’ with many of our customers and welcome the opportunity of Reed rescheduling this fair for a later date in September.”
McCarrick understands the disappointment of all involved but he says the new dates will mean there are seven more weeks for the current pandemic conditions to come under control.
“The co-location of Reed Gift Fair and Life Instyle at the MCEC will provide retailers with the biggest offering for their Christmas sourcing, conveniently located in one place at the same time.”
Caryn Hanley, managing director of Buxton Hanley, believes Reed Gift Fairs made the only decision they could and she is looking forward to the September fair.
“I am very relieved that Reed has decided to postpone the gift fair and not just cancel it outright,” she says.
“As a small business representing brands that are new to the Australian market, these trade shows are critical as they represent a unique opportunity for buyers to see and feel the products and ask questions about the brands and their production processes.
“I will definitely be exhibiting in September. I think both buyers and wholesalers like us are as keen as each other for this trade show to go ahead.”
Hanley adds that the recent surge in cases across the country has made people nervous to travel but hopefully by the middle of September things are relatively under control again so that people will have more confidence around travelling interstate.
“We will clearly all be impacted, but I don’t think there are many retailers or wholesalers who have not already been severely impacted by Covid. At least they will still have the opportunity to exhibit and buyers will have the opportunity to see what is new and exciting in time for the festive season.”
Reed Gift Fair Melbourne will take place from Friday 17 September to Sunday 19 September at MCEC.