Micam ShoEvent, the international trade fair held March 4 to 7, saw a drop in visitors compared with a yaer ago. It drew 36,555 accredited guests, 5.7 percent fewer than in 2008. There were 17,610 Italian visitors, a drop of just 1.5 percent, and 18,945 foreign guests, a 9.4 percent decrease.

As shown in the table here below, some of the biggest declines were recorded from Japan, Germany, Russia, the U.K., Turkey and the Ukraine. Increases were registered from France, Switzerland and China. The 29.2 percent decrease from Russia caused it to slip into 7th place on the chart, behind Greece.

The show drew 1,611 exhibitors to 72,474 square meters of floor space, marginally less than a year ago. Organizers said that despite the lower figures, given the global economic slowdown, they saw the attendance data as positive, and as a "beacon of hope" for the shoe industry.

Some exhibitors justified the relatively good attendance with the relatively cold winter season that has just passed, which boosted retailers' sales in many European countries, reducing their inventories. However, many suppliers said they were undecided about their attitude toward the request of numerous small retailers who have been black-listed by credit insurance companies because of the financial crisis.

The risks associated with this situation have enhanced the role of the territorial agents as advisers and of the buying groups as guarantors of the retailers' payments. However, a conference organized at the fair by Massimo Donda, head of the Italian shoe retailers' association, failed to convince some suppliers to work with his new Italian buying group.