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Twelve key vendors and three service providers comprised day one of the annual Power Group Vendor Fair held yesterday in downtown Montreal. While past Vendor Fairs have looked more like a mini CES with elaborate booths with a multitude of product on display, a post Covid Vendor Fair presented a more trimmed down and intimate offering with some manufacturers showing very few products, but using their allocated space for a boardroom setting to sit with key retailers and hash out fall buying deals. Confirming the importance of the Vendor Fair, all participating vendors had their most senior teams on hand to meet the retailers.
All vendors presented a road map of new fall product during closed member briefings and then used the Fair for face-to-face negotiating. The well attended Vendor Fair brought most Power Group members together for the first time in three years and the tone and spirit of the day was “let’s get back to business.”
While two years of Covid-19 lock-downs had been a bust for many segments of the global economy, consumer tech arguably was a category winner during the pandemic as consumers invested in their home entertainment, adding home theatres, sound systems, Smart TVs and outdoor entertaining spaces while living a life in isolation. The biggest debate among the delegates of the Vendor Fair was how to forecast sales for 2022 among rising interest rates and high inflation. Do the members compare year-over-year sales to 2021 or do you go back to pre-pandemic levels and compare this year’s numbers to 2019 and simply view the massive sales of 2021 as an anomaly? As one seasoned retailer told me; “we will be up in 2022 from ‘21 and I see no reason to believe the industry needs to reset expectations back to a time before Covid. Inventory levels are strong, supply chain issues are mostly behind us and consumer sentiment to invest in tech, even with high inflation is not slowing down. Investing in your home and creating the best entertainment experience isn’t going to stop.”
The collective tone of the day was “there’s nothing like getting together in person to capture the mood of an industry” and judging from the jovial tone of the Power Group attendees, the fall quarter looks to be full steam ahead.