Nobody Wants New?

I just returned from the ABC Kids Expo in Vegas this past week.  The show is a children’s industry tradeshow that connects children’s manufacturers with buyers from specialty boutiques, department stores, and chains.  Buyer traffic was down as the case with most shows; however, I couldn’t help but notice a reoccurring theme throughout the five day show.  Nobody wanted new.  The manufacturers I spoke with all commented that sales were down about 35-50% and that the customers that were still buying were existing customers.  I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the newcomers that ventured out to the show for their big launch, as many left with no orders written.  It seems the economy has left the buyers skittish and I can’t blame them.  They are suffering the same cash flow crunch we all are with their sales down 35-50% as well.  Many retailers are shutting their doors and others are barely holding on.  The safe bet becomes the best bet.  This theme rang true with my own line and customers as well.  About 90% of my orders came from existing customers and they only ordered the pieces that had sold well in the past.  They didn’t want the new pieces or anything remotely seasonal.  In contrast, the last three years I had exhibited at this show about 90% of my sales were from NEW customers.  Talk about a complete turnaround!  While I wouldn’t call my findings a “proven statistic”, I do think they are a fairly good representation of the real-world effects our downed economy is having on consumers.  Their tolerance for risk is nonexistent. 

What do you think?  Have you launched a new product?  If so, what has been the response?  Are you a buyer?  If so, are you trying new products or sticking with the “tried and true”?

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