Gift Focus inc Attire Accessories - March/April 2022

122 Having attended the first in-person Spring Fair event since COVID-19 emerged, Gift Focus Editor Louise Prance discusses the successful return of trade shows post-pandemic The words ‘post-pandemic’ are often used when talking about return of trade shows, which isn’t strictly true – as despite the relaxation of all measures in the UK, COVID-19 is still an ever-present unwanted friend at the party of life. However, due to the successful vaccination drive, life is carrying on, and thankfully, has seen the muchanticipated return of industry trade shows. Just a few weeks ago I put on my comfiest trainers and once again set off for Spring Fair for the first time in a long time. Equipped with my pen and notebook, I met my Managing Editor Danielle, and we pounded the aisles, inspired, enthused and excited by the turnout and the wealth of wonderful product on display. Of course, it was smaller, and yes, footfall might have been lower than previous years. But that is all to be expected as hesitancy remains – however, this will undoubtedly ease as time goes on, and brands that were there heralded a successful and profitable event, while buyers once again felt galvanised about getting to see what they’re buying in the real world. While digital will inevitably always have its place, there is hope that it now be a complement to the in-person events, rather than instead of. Because as the Financial Times stated, Zoom-weary delegates are keen to return. And as an industry steeped on aesthetics, attending trade shows is a vital way to network, learn, buy, touch, feel, sell, meet, and greet – and there is nothing that replicates face-to-face for all of those wonderful aspects of our much-loved shows. Of course, we’re not completely out of the woods yet – Omricon threatened to put a spanner in the works earlier this year – and exhibitors are becoming more risk-averse, but the vital signs are good. Indeed, according to the FT, Spring Fair organiser Hyve returned to profit in the year to the end of September, and while there may be some long-term changes – there is set to be a ‘gravitational pull to largest events in any industry to the detriment of smaller shows, according to Mark Shashoua, Chief Executive of Hyve – the positive remains, we’re back. SHOW APPEAL Spring Fair