ATLANTA — The June Atlanta Apparel Market was held June 10-13. The opening offers a glimpse into the first live event for apparel industry buyers and sellers since the pandemic led to lockdowns across the U.S. On June 8 International Market Centers (IMC) reopened its AmericasMart Atlanta campus for daily access, with requirements for safe hygiene and social distancing in place.
On its opening day, the June Atlanta Apparel Market reported more than 400 showrooms and 28 temporary exhibits were open with attendance of just over one-third the size of its usual traffic.
Before going forward with the opening, IMC surveyed its entire buyer and supplier universe – more than 180,000 retailers and designers and nearly 6,000 manufacturers and sales agencies across the gift, home furnishings and apparel industries. “On the first day, we registered as many attendees as we had anticipated registering for the entire market, based on a STAX buyer survey indicating buyer sentiment about attending market, staying in hotels, and other travel related issues,” said IMC CMO Dorothy Belshaw.
The vast majority of attendance drove in, and surveyed buyers indicated they would be willing to drive six to seven hours to the event versus three to four hours previously, Belshaw said.
“It’s going to be a challenge for everyone,” IMC Chairman & CEO Bob Maricich told TSE. “The comfort level of attending markets or trade shows is directly correlated with attendee’s comfort level to travel and hotel stays. This has to be a team effort. The hotels and airlines have to do a good job of communicating what they are doing to help people feel safe and comfortable. For the industry, that kind of united effort is going to win the day.”
On June 4, IMC released its “Together Safely” Reopening Plan, which outlined new protocols for health and hygiene for staff, contractors, buyers and exhibitors.
For the June Apparel Market, IMC limited access points to the facility to three street entrances of eight total and two out of the three lobby entrances to control the flow into and out of the campus. The requirements for buyers and vendors to gain access to the building included:
- Temperature checks for all customers and showroom partners upon arrival. Anyone with a recorded temperature in excess of 100.4 ° F is not granted access to the building.
- Approved personal protective masks at all times throughout the building and in showrooms while in the presence of others. If buyers arrived at the campus without a mask, they were issued one by IMC.
- Tenants were expected to monitor and manage their showrooms for compliance with safe distancing, prescribed occupancy restrictions, use of PPE and cleaning protocols.
“We’ve gone to touchless registration,” Maricich said. “You are required to pre-register so no one has to stand in line for registration. It’s going to take a while for that to sink in. Each pre-registered attendee receives a barcode for seamless entry after a temperature check and receipt of our safety guidelines”
After temperature checks, attendees and exhibitors receive a sticker, which indicates “I’ve been checked” with the date. In addition, each attendee was given a printed list of safety guidelines in a plastic bag with a mask and 1 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer. After the first two days of the event, management reported no elevated temperatures or reported illnesses.
In May, IMC postponed the Atlanta Market and Las Vegas Market from July to August but decided to go forward with the June Apparel Market when a majority of vendors said they wanted it. The August Apparel Market and World of Prom will be held August 3-8. Atlanta Market will be held August 13–18, and the Las Vegas Market will be held August 30–Sept. 3.
Las Vegas Market will run concurrently with the National Hardware Show, which runs September 1–3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “Both markets will feature new trade show layouts designed to enable social distancing and traffic control,” said Belshaw. “In line with buyer sentiment, neither market will host at-market social gatherings for the summer editions. All programming and trend features will be presented through digital market channels before and after market.”