The 87th edition of Expo Riva Schuh ended Tuesday with a total of 13,024 registered visitors. They were practically as many as a year ago in spite of adverse weather conditions that caused many flights to be cancelled, diverted or delayed, the January 2016 edition had 13,104 registrations.

About 6,000 visitors had pre-registered online before the show, which came out with a new, more colorful and more fashion-oriented logo, accompanied by a strong claim: “the fair that moves the world.”

The fair inaugurated a new and more modern format also for its traditional first-day conference, making it a less formal event and a more useful information session for the listeners. E-commerce was the theme of the conference, which featured a representative of the Alibaba Group. The spectators were invited to ask questions through the moderator by sms and through WhatsApp. We'll report on the contents of the conference in a later issue of Shoe Intelligence.

In spite of persistent space constraints in the main fairgrounds, the number of exhibitors went up to 1,449 from 1,408. They came from more than 40 countries and included collective presentations from China, India, Portugal, Spain, Indonesia, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Tunisia and Turkey. The exhibitors occupied a total of 32,715 square meters of space, and 1,162 of them came from outside Italy.

Strengthening its ties with the fair, the Italian Trade Commission (Ice) supported visits to the show by more than 40 buyers and some journalists from 14 countries. They came from Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and several countries in Eastern Europe: Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Hungary.

To further promote the internationalization of the fair, the organizers will work with Ice to hold meetings with trade associations, chambers of commerce and other bodies in the most promising and strategic markets, presenting the fair and holding training sessions. To optimize the program, which they call Expo Riva Schuh Around the World, the organizers are launching a survey among the show's exhibitors to collect their recommendations.

Exhibitors and visitors said they worked well at the show, making very good contacts at a high level. While the focus was on the presentation of new collections for autumn/winter 2017/18, with interesting discussions and little order writing except for samples, some exhibitors got large or small re-orders for spring/summer merchandise due to be delivered in the next few weeks.

It's one of the positive aspects for the show's format and timing, which allows greater flexibility at a time where supply chain strategies and the dynamics of purchasing are changing rapidly, due in part to the strong development of e-commerce.

In view of the recent volatility of currencies, pricing was a major issue at the show, especially with U.K. buyers. Many of them were reported to be asking their suppliers to share the burden of the post-Brexit devaluation of the pound sterling. An Indian supplier was asked to be quoted in rupees rather than in U.S. dollars.

Some exhibitors found the schedule too early to prepare the prototypes in time. For many Italian companies, the Christmas and year-end holidays last until Jan. 6, coinciding with the Epiphany. Expo Riva Schuh started on Jan. 16 last year, but this year it began two days earlier, on Jan. 14. It was even worse in 2015, though, when it started on Jan. 10.

The next two sessions of the four-day fair will start on June 10, 2017 and on Jan. 13, 2018.

While the number of exhibitors has kept rising, the number of visitors has stabilized after a year in which it grew strongly from the 2015 level of 12,552 guests. “Our fair is backed by a strong identity, which has never changed either its course or its positioning, and it's precisely this consistency that has paid off over time with a high retention rate among both exhibitors and visitors,” concluded Roberto Pellegrini, president of the company that organizes the show, Riva del Garda Fierecongressi.