So attendance at Bread & Butter Barcelona was as we all thought, down. As the show opened last Wednesday, retail stock prices crashed back home on the back of the M&S profit warning. What we could all have done with was a good dose of Bread & Butter buzz topped with some interesting trends to bring back some belief that there is still spend to be had despite rising food/energy/fuel/mortgage bills.
Although the mood was generally optimistic when Bread & Butter opened its doors (the new smooth running entry system probably helped this), within hours the gloomy economic clouds descended over the gloriously sunny Barcelona location.
A lack of significant new trends did not help lift buyers' spirits. And by day two, the atmosphere was distinctly flat and this almost didn't feel like a Karl-Heinz Muller show spectacular at all.
With overall attendance down 2.5% on last July and down 10% on January, and within that visitor numbers up from the US, Eastern Europe, Asia and South American, what was the true picture of visitor numbers from the UK, Germany, The Netherlands and France this season? On a like for like basis it doesn't feel good.
Meanwhile, the stands (for those brands fortunate enough not to have had their marketing budgets slashed yet) get bigger and bigger and demands for more space, particularly from the denim brands, means the overall number of exhibitors will be squeezed down to 800 next season. My question to Karl-Heinz Muller at the press conference about which brands will not be invited back next season, was answered indirectly but the overall message seemed to be the bigger your budgets are the better your chances of sticking around are.
Karl-Heinz Muller, coincidentally, denied this strategy was a reaction to the ecomonic climate, insisting the show had felt "no impact" from the downturn at all. Having not played the tough times card, how he goes on to explain declining visitors from key markets later this week will make interesting reading.
All this leaves me rather underwhelmed. Wasn't the first edition of B&B I attended in Cologne all about edgy, smaller labels, each with the same style rail to present their ranges?
Isn't this old format show - a mix of the cool, the credible and commercial - really what we need to stimulate spending right now.
What are your thoughts on this Bread & Butter and the future of the show? Was it a worthwhile trip for you? Are you an exhibitor? Are you supportive of Karl-Heinz Muller's plans for January 09?