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Atlanta Shoe Market Sees Record Turnout as Retailers Push Through Inventory Excess

The Atlanta Shoe Market had its largest show yet this past weekend.

After already declaring the show sold-out in December, Atlanta Shoe Market executive director Laura Conwell-O’Brien told FN that exhibitor attendance was up 35 percent and retailer attendance was up 16 percent across the three-day event, which ran from Feb. 18–20.

“The show hosted retailers from 12 countries and 42 states,” Conwell-O’Brien said. “Everyone was upbeat and positive.”

The positivity that Conwell-O’Brien mentioned was certainly felt on the show floor, an unexpected notion considering the mixed views on the industry in recent earnings reports.

In fact, many vendors at the show said retailers were placing orders and seem ready get back to more normal operations. But excess inventory continues to be a factor in their buying decisions.

“For spring, retailers are playing defensively and pushing out deliveries as fast as possible,” said Keith McMahon, senior field sales at Ecco. “For brands, that means we need to be ready with the inventory when the rush comes in the summer.”

That same strategy is being applied at Only Partners LLC, a New Jersey-based footwear company that last month added the licenses for the Soft Comfort and Enjoiya lines. “We’re going to stock up on sandals and have them ready in-season for our retail partners,” said Angela Paterson, U.S. business director at Only Partners. “Inventory issues are affecting buying budgets. But if you can be there in-season with the key items, that’s good for everyone.”

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Back at Ecco, McMahon added that the brand is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and is unveiling a collection of its most eco-conscious designs to-date. The shoes are slated to launch in April at Nordstrom and Ecco store locations, followed by wider distribution in 2024.

And over at MukLuks, be on the lookout for its first all-leather boot collection for fall ‘23. The multi style collection is made in India and will retail for under $200. Meanwhile the brand has also introduced new designs to its core boot program, and continues to see strong demand for its house slippers and bestselling cabin socks.

Looking ahead to next show season, Conwell-O’Brien is already gearing up for another blockbuster event. Slated to run Aug. 12-14, the executive expects another sold-out show this summer. “The Atlanta Shoe Market is definitely the buzz in the industry, and we are all looking forward to the August 2023 show,” Conwell-O’Brien added.