Marketing Zone headed over to Spring Fair at the NEC, Birmingham to see upcoming trends in retail products. The event provides buyers a chance to rub shoulders with the likes of Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, Kirstie Allsopp and Delia Smith, while seeing hundreds of thousands of products, all in one place, and placing orders.
With thousands of exhibitors, the whole event exuded an air of optimism, despite the current challenging market conditions. And against a backdrop of recent retail casualties like HMV and Jessops, 82% of buyers questioned in the ‘Spring Fair International Retail Barometer’ foresee company growth in 2013. There is a general consensus that the most agile players will survive and truly thrive. Blending instore with online and direct marketing, together with flexible opening hours is vital to attracting customers and sustaining growth.
As to the thorny question ‘What would improve the health of the high street?’ retailers gave their clear response:
- 52% urged the government to cut VAT
- 51% suggested free or lower car parking charges
- 42% called for a freeze in business rates.
From the latest homewares, to toys and gifts, there was plenty to see and find out about. We clearly love our homes, given the myriad of ways we like to embellish them. But what also struck us was that as a nation we must be mad about dressing up too. The sheer number of kids and adults dress-up costumes available to the retail trade is amazing. Is that all just a bit of escapism – or one of the reasons we’re such a creative nation, because we aren’t afraid to let our imaginations run riot?
While there were many futuristic-looking innovations, H. Grossman Ltd, Scotland’s largest toy company have taken their inspiration from the past – dinosaurs no less – and melded this with the latest gadgetry. So now dinosaurs have been brought back to life with their Animated Megasaurs. The top of the range can be yours for around £9,500. Some even walk and they all ‘breathe’. It certainly stretches the ‘toy’ category. And going up-market is a strong response to these tough economic times.