NEW YORK—The toy industry’s leading trade show, Toy Fair, will be stocked to the brim with the latest in fun for all ages when it re-opens its doors at New York City’s Javits Center Sept. 30-Oct. 3, after a three-year hiatus.
The Toy Association was forced to cancel its sold-out show in February of 2022 due to the lingering effects of the COVID pandemic. The organizers regrouped, moved its dates to late September 2023, and are now seeing a record-breaking response from the industry, according to Steve Pasierb, President & CEO of The Toy Association. “To have a trade show that’s been around for 118 years but to have the last few be absolutely crazy, we’re just all looking forward to being back and being together,” he said. “And this will be a larger show than in 2020, which is really heartening given the fact that there’s been a recession and there have been a lot of changes in the industry.”
The trade show is expected to attract attendees from more than 80 countries, with overall attendance to date up 6% from Toy Fair 2020. There will be more than 900 exhibiting companies (356 for the very first time) from 38 countries, including big names like LEGO, Playmobil and Build-a-Bear.
Pasierb credits his association’s willingness to adjust to the changes in the industry as a key reason for these numbers. “Actually, before the pandemic, when you look to Toys “R” Us going out of business, the tariffs on imported goods, all these things, the hits have been coming over the last five to six years. I think the key thing as a trade association and as a trade show is this willingness to make swift moves. Our audience expects very different things, our exhibitors expect very different things, and we’ve made all those shifts.”
The biggest change was to move the dates of the trade show from February to September, to take advantage of the holiday season. Attendee feedback asked for more product facing the trade show aisles, so exhibitors have been required to reduce their wall space and increase display space. Educational sessions will be geared not just to the retail buyers and sellers but the other categories of people who attend, from inventors and designers to entertainment executives and distributors. “We’ve got 70 major sessions, it’s basically a major conference within a trade show,” Pasierb said.
Of course, the holiday selection has been amped up “from the minute you walk into the Javits Center,” he said. “When Toy Fair was in February, it was after the core selling season and ahead of the specialty buying season. So, a little too late for some and a little too early for others. Now they can see what’s available now and what will be available through December. 80% of toy deals between buyers and sellers are done between the end of August and the end of February. So that little window of time is really the sweet spot, both for the industry and for a trade show like ours.”
Reach Steve Pasierb at (212) 675-1141