Light booth traffic at SouthPack 2001

We observed very light booth traffic in Atlanta at SouthPack on all three days -- the lightest we have ever seen at a regional packaging trade show.

Exhibitors tried to remain optimistic, but all agreed that quality was going to have to outweigh quantity because there just weren't enough people walking the aisles.

Some exhibitors grumbled about learning that the show had been sold from Reed Exhibition to Canon Communication s only after they arrived at the show. A few wondered whether the show had been under promoted because it was for sale, but others felt they had received the same amount of promotions, and were quicker to blame the economy.

One company owner told us, "I could see a national show being lighter because people don't fly in, but this is a regional show, and folks can still get here just the same; there's just not enough here to draw the crowds."

The exhibition hall was not packed; both sides of the hall and the end of the aisle were blocked off with curtains -- a peek behind the curtain revealed a lot of empty space.

As always there were exceptions to the rule. While manufacturers of big-ticket equipment and systems noted a lack of corporate buyers, some booths were selling machinery right on the floor. Exhibitors offering hand held labelers, tabletop tape dispensers, and lower-cost equipment reported decent interest, and even sales!

We noticed a lack of big OEM booths; most seemed to have scale back a bit. The biggest booths by far were regional distributors featuring a wide variety of OEM machinery. These appeared to be busier than most. But busy is a relative term.

"We're at the stage where five good leads a day is acceptable," said one exhibitor. "One good sale makes it all worthwhile."

Click here for a review of what our Senior Editor/Online, Ela Fruscione, saw on the show floor.

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