Attendance was down 7 percent at this year’s Fall High Point Market, which took place Oct. 20-26.
Brian D. Casey, President and CEO of the High Point Market Authority, blamed the weak housing market for the drop in attendees.
“From the softened housing market to bloated inventories, tightening credit and the melt-down on Wall Street, home furnishings professionals across the industry have been struggling to cope with some of the most difficult business conditions they have ever encountered and Market registrations reflect this,” Casey said. “Across all categories and all facets of the business, we are seeing unprecedented change. Our industry is contracting and consolidating in ways never before experienced.”
The number of qualified buyers who attended the Fall 2008 Market fell 2,534 to 44,634, or about 6 percent, from the previous High Point Market. If you include registrations from sales personnel, students, the media and other industry members, the total number of registrations fell by about 7 percent.
To counteract the changing business trends, Casey said the High Point Market Authority has been focusing on attracting more interior designers to market, and he said that strategy seems to be working.
Casey said a total of 14,931 interior designers registered for this year’s market, including 3,023 who had never attended High Point before.
In addition, Casey said the High Point Market Authority has been trying to lure buyers who have not attended a market before or who haven’t been in a while.
Casey said 8,844 of the buyers who came to this year’s market were there for the first time, and 2,107 buyers returned to High Point after being gone for a year or more.