The drop in visitors at both fairs confirms the theory that these kinds of events are a mirror of the market situation. The shoe market is estimated to have declined by 6 percent in Italy and by 4 percent in Germany last year, and in fact, significant decreases in the number of Italian buyers at Micam and German buyers at the GDS affected the total scores.

The total number of registered visitors at Micam declined by 7.1 percent to a total of 36,049 for the event held in Milan from March 4-7, as compared to one year ago. There were 9.7 percent fewer Italians. At The 18,687 number of visitors from abroad was higher, but it showed a lower decline of 4.6 percent. Foreign buyers placed the most orders, according to the organizers of the fair.

A breakdown of foreign visitors at Micam by country is not yet available, but it seems that U.S. department store buyers came back in larger numbers and there were more visitors from China, Russia and other former Soviet countries.

While the number of foreign exhibitors at Micam was slightly higher than a year ago, with a total of 609 firms, the number of Italian exhibitors declined by about 50 firms. The newcomers included an important Italian fashion house, Liu Jo, but some small Italian companies that were mainly catering to the domestic market didn't show up because they have been forced to shut down. Anci, the Italian shoe industry association, which organizes Micam, has decided to launch a study of the Italian shoe retail market this year to help the members that are still surviving.

The organizers are trying to make the show more entertaining, starting with the “Flash Mobs:” Three actresses danced on the show floor and the between the halls during the fair, engaging in very extravagant, improvised dances at the tune of music coming from loudspakers tucked into their headwear and with their feet wearing – of course – dressy high-heeled Italian shoes.

Taking place a few days later, just after a reportedly good session of Modacalçado in Madrid, the three-day GDS fair in Düsseldorf suffered a drop of 5.5 percent in the number of daily visits to 23,150.

A survey conducted by the organizers showed that three-fourths of the visitors were decision-makers and that two-thirds of the buyers placed forward orders at the fair. Repeat orders were placed by 34 percent of them. Higher forward orders than a year ago were placed by only 29 percent of the German buyers and 19 percent of the foreigners.

Evidently, the poor sell-out of the latest fall/winter season, especially in the areas of boots and functional shoes, discouraged many buyers. However, Ralph Rieker, president of the German shoe and leathergoods industry association, HDS, suggested that they should order on the basis of their average sales in the last three years, rather than just one year.

Some big foreign players sent over some of their officials including Charles Clinkard, Jones Bootmaker, Office and Schoon from the U.K., Stiefelkönig from Austria, El Corte Inglés and Calzados Bravos from Spain, and Gum and Axa Shoes from Russia.

One of out three visitors expressed interest in the shoe offerings for children, but 73 percent were interested in women's shoes and 44 percent in men's shoes. Exhibitors in the children's section of the GDS expressed mixed feelings about the show. Some were happy about the turnout and others weren't. One of them, Legero Superfit of Austria, told the magazine Schuhkurier that it would not come back next time.

On the other hand, big German suppliers such as Buffalo, Gabor, K&S, Peter Kaiser and Wortmann reportedly said that they were happy with the show.