EDITOR'S NOTE NOVEMBER 2009 | VOL. 34 NO. 4
THE ECONOMY IS A PERSISTENT, IRRESISTIBLE INFLUENCE ON EVERY ASPECT of our industry. We are buoyed by the rising tide of encouraging economic forecasts, we are disheartened by the falling tide of economic setbacks. But we're learning, and changing, and I'm convinced the tide really is turning toward the good.
This issue of Travel Goods Showcase, in particular, really shows how much change is in store. It starts with the Show Preview, exhibitor list and floor plan for The 2010 Travel Goods Show. The landscape of the Show floor will be dramatically altered this year, with exhibitors grouped by product category — something buyers have asked for. And since buying is really what The Show is about, this change makes sense. Improving the shopping experience for buyers and the selling environment for exhibitors adds value for all attendees.
We're also seeing a shift in value reflected in a new generation of luggage and accessories — more than 100 of which are featured in this very issue. And, value is what the new consumer is all about, too. Kathy Witt's story about their buying habits really drives this point home. Shoppers are demanding value. They want more for their money, a fact borne out by our feature on the State of the Travel Goods Market — unit sales of luggage fell, but the average price paid actually rose by double digits as consumers chose quality over low-buck loss leaders. They're looking ahead, weighing features and durability in their purchasing decisions.
I believe this is key to our comeback as an industry. Almost every dealer interviewed for our New Consumer feature talks about how shoppers are smarter, better informed, and more discerning than ever before. They're hungry for information — there are fewer impulse buyers and more considered purchases — which creates tremendous opportunity for smarter retailers who can help point out the features and benefits of new travel goods products to customers.
And, this dovetails nicely with what we're calling the Travel Goods Specialist Certificate Program 2.0. Hundreds of retailers have already taken advantage of this online training module, which is currently receiving a major overhaul and is set to debut at The 2010 Show in Las Vegas. We're updating information to keep our training materials current and relevant as materials and standards evolve. It's information like this that will keep our stores current and relevant as well.
The economy is changing every aspect of manufacturing and retailing. And, our industry is making changes to follow this shifting tide. It's all about value.