UK buyers were thin on the ground in Dusseldorf this season, with agents reporting a lower turnout than expected during the shows last weekend.
Many exhibitors told Drapers that even show stalwarts had stayed away this season.
Jenny Weidner, sales agent for womenswear label Annette Gortz, said: "Two of my best customers, who used to come every season, aren't here. They said that it has become too expensive with the flight and hotel, and that there's nothing new here to make the trip worthwhile."
Agents said many buyers were opting to stay home and do their buying locally or attend other shows, such as Pret a Porter in Paris, Pure in London or Moda in Birmingham.
Christian Lawaczeck, managing director of Basler UK, said increasing costs and pressures on retailers meant that fewer were now making the trip.
"Larger businesses seem to have come through the season well," he said. "But it's the smaller operators, with stores of about 1,000sq ft to 1,500 sq ft, that are suffering the most.
"Owning the freehold of your property also seems to be a plus-point for those that are trading healthily. Independent retailers just cannot easily soak up the kind of rent and rate rises they have been experiencing recently."
He added: "We have seen who we expected to see at the show, but the independents are not at their most confident at the moment after a very mixed season. However, the new autumn 07 stock has been selling well, which is positive."
The lack of UK visitors highlighted the presence of international buyers, with many from the Republic of Ireland and eastern Europe. Some also visited from as far away as Australia.
The Dusseldorf fairs CPD, HMD and Body Look attracted 42,600 visitors, about the same as last year. The number of international visitors across all three shows rose by 2% to 34%.