The American Gem Trade Association said attendance was down at the 2009 AGTA GemFair Tucson, held Feb. 4-9, compared to last year and buying was conservative. Although buying activity was slower, many companies were still in Tucson to restock their inventory with gemstones, pearls, and finished jewelry.
“In this economy, we were extremely pleased to have 81 percent of our buyers attend this year’s GemFair,” said Douglas K. Hucker, AGTA CEO. “We had a lot of positive feedback from our exhibitors about the quality and quantity of the traffic on the show floor. Many buyers see a great opportunity in colored gemstones and pearls in 2009 and were on hand to diversify their merchandise mix.”
The GemFair saw a 19 percent drop in attending buyers; 7,640 this year versus 9,402 in 2008, AGTA said. Purchases were being made on the show floor, but at reduced levels compared to previous years. Several retailers reported having higher stock levels in their inventory and were primarily looking for special order and key stock pieces.
An interesting trend reported on the floor was an influx of new buyers with many exhibitors sharing that they had opened more new accounts this year relative to previous years, AGTA said. Exhibitors in the Spectrum of Design Pavilion at GemFair were also pleased with the level of business that was done this year. AGTA also enlisted 50 new members at the GemFair.
“Membership in AGTA is more valuable now than ever, especially for retailers and smaller businesses,” Hucker said. “By using the economies of scale of our membership, we can now offer many programs and sales tools with little or no cost to our member companies. Every savings that we offer our members helps reduce overall expenses and attending companies took advantage by joining the association at the show.”