In the week before the ETO Show, the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) released figures for the month of May 2012 which revealed that all retail sales values showed an increase of 3.3% over May 2011, with retail sales volumes estimated to have risen by 2.4%.
OK, these figures are hardly cause for a street party – which is rather ironic, as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was one of the reasons cited for the sales increase – but they are encouraging, considering April showed zero growth.
What was even more encouraging was the attendance at last month’s ETO Show. The official number was not available at the time of going to press, as the data had still to be de-duped, but frankly the actual figure doesn’t matter. Everyone could see there were plenty of visitors and the exhibitors were unanimous in declaring the event a success.
In addition to all the established retailers who were there spending money with their suppliers, there were also some non-buyers who are worthy of a mention. I have been asked a number of times who the film crew were. They were following around a group of ladies who are designing a new toy for Ann Summers. They certainly seemed to enjoy themselves (though we won’t know until the programme is broadcast on Channel 4 next February) and I had several conversations with people just about to enter the market who were there for fact-finding and information-gathering purposes.
What was particularly interesting were that these were serious people. They did not intend getting rich quick by starting a website and undercutting Lovehoney, they were taking a very considered approach to entering the market. They knew who the major players were and what the overall business was worth. Of course they may yet decide to move into other industries but it is encouraging that they were considering ‘adult’ as a legitimate area to invest in.
And on that note, particularly after three uses of the word ‘encouraging’ in the same column, I think I’d better put my feet up.