Mood Mixed At Expo Riva Schuh

Retailers and vendors at Expo Riva Schuh said they see the light at the end of the recessionary tunnel, but many noted that they still had concerns over the timing and depth of a 2010 recovery.

A number of exhibitors, who mainly sell to the moderate segment of the market, said an uptick in business at the end of 2009 helped give them confidence heading into the new year.

Axel Federlein of German vendor Wolf Logistik, which sells to European retail giants such as Deichmann, Reno and C&A, cited a boost from a cold and wet December, which helped retailers sell out their remaining stock in the last few weeks of the year.

Ralf Grossman, managing director of German producer Gerli, agreed that weather had been a positive factor. He said momentum in sales generated from the poor weather is getting his company off to a strong start in 2010.

“We’re seeing good performance, especially for outdoor products, such as heavy, strong boots,” Grossman said.

However, several exhibitors and buyers said they worry that the recession’s effects have not fully hit consumers.

With government money running out and unemployment still high throughout Europe, many attendees predicted consumer spending would remain weak at least for the first part of the year.

“We’ll have a slow start, but spring and summer should see a lift,” said Lisa Hickerton, a buyer for Arcadia, one of the U.K.’s largest retailers, with brands including Wallis, Topshop and Miss Selfridge.

Others were even more cautious. “We believe retailers [will] have to work harder than last year to get the same results as in 2009,” said Donovan van Uitert, sales manager of The New Shoe Co., a Netherlands-based shoe importer and vendor.

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