DAYTON, Ohio -- The School, Home & Office Products Association here is evaluating next year's SHOPA Industry Week Show, scheduled to run Sept. 26 to 30 in Orlando, Fla., after suffering a disappointing turnout of buyers, said Steve Jacober, SHOPA president here. While show organizers have yet to announce official attendance figures, buyer and exhibitor attendance was expected to fall well below last year's 7,500, according to Melissa Gebhardt, association services manager.
The event was plagued on two fronts: hurricanes; and the ECRM School, Home & Office Efficient Planning Session, a competing event sponsored by ECRM, Cleveland.
SHOPA was held Sept. 20 to 24 between Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne, and actually enjoyed good weather. However, there was the anticipation of bad weather. The hurricanes did play a factor in some cancellations, acknowledged SHOPA officials.
The sharp drop-off in attendance also was attributed to the fact that the show was scheduled at the same time as the competing ECRM event, which took place Sept. 20 to 23 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"They decided to go head to head with ECRM," remarked an exhibitor, who did not want his name to be used. "As far as I am concerned, SHOPA signed its death warrant. It is too bad."
In previous years, the SHOPA show was scheduled in early November. "They made a decision two years ago to compete directly with us," said Anita Fontana, vice president of marketing for ECRM. An estimated 74 retail buyers were booked with manufacturers during the ECRM event.
Jacober denied SHOPA purposely went head to head with ECRM and called it an "unavoidable conflict." He said the decision to move the show dates was an effort to adjust to an earlier buying cycle, especially among mass merchandisers. The dates were also contracted two years ago based on the availability of the Orange County Convention Center. "It was not our intention to compete or conflict with any other industry event. We will be taking a look at what we need to do to make our event more beneficial for the marketplace so it may be shorter [next year]."
Some larger companies like 3M said they had registered for both SHOPA and ECRM, and had prior appointments booked with major buyers, such as Wal-Mart Stores, Costco and Office Depot. However, they also said walk-in traffic to their SHOPA booths had been slow.
Those said to attend SHOPA from the supermarket channel included H-E-B, Safeway, United Supermarkets and Winn-Dixie. Supermarkets contact by SN could not be reached for comment.