The NSW government’s recent announcement regarding the easing of COVID-19 restrictions has meant the pre-Christmas trade event, Stock Up & Top Up – scheduled for Sunday 7 and Monday 8 November at the International Convention Centre (ICC), Darling Harbour – is approved to run.
Gary Fitz-Roy, managing director of Stock Up & To Up organiser Expertise Events, said, “NSW Health has approved our event within the new orders, and we are updating our COVID plans, which means the industry has a chance to meet in person before the Christmas and New Year sales period – which, of course, will be even more important this year.”
Fitz-Roy added that the industry is in dire need of a trade event to reconnect, and that the current lockdown has had a very different impact on retailers than the 2020 lockdown.
For those reasons, it is “even more significant that all four jewellery buying groups have announced that they will attend.”
“Since announcing Stock Up & Top Up last week, it’s fantastic that Nationwide, Showcase, Independent Jewellers Collective and Leading Edge are all supporting the event and will be there to meet their members and suppliers face-to-face to support uniting the industry at this most important time,” Fitz-Roy said.
“At such a challenging time, it’s great to see the industry back and united to support each other – it’s like Christmas has come early!
“There is such pent-up demand to reconnect and get on with our day-to-day routine and business, and it’s an important time to ensure retailers have the latest stock, and enough stock, for Christmas and the New Year,” he added.
Colin Pocklington, managing director of Nationwide Jewellers, said, “The Trade Days held earlier this year [in March and April] highlighted the desire for retailers and suppliers to meet face-to-face. We are expecting a similar response for the Sydney event in November.”
He added, “Following a long lockdown period it is essential that retailers have a highly successful trading period in the lead up to Christmas. Very buoyant trading in the states with minimal lockdown periods shows that consumers are looking to buy jewellery, just as they did following the lockdown from March to June in 2020.”
Nicola Adams, chief operating officer, Showcase Jewellers, said she was looking forward to the SUTU event.
“I am sure it will be a great show for us to reconnect with our membership. Showcase is preparing for a strong Christmas once we finally re-open in many states after long lockdowns. We are confident that consumers will be wanting to celebrate with gift giving this year.
“It will be a great opportunity to top-up on stock before Christmas,” Adams said.
Echoing Adams and Pocklington’s sentiments, Josh Zarb, CEO of Independent Jewellers Collective, said, “We have just completed our promotional calendar for 2021 and we are well into 2022.
“The timing of Stock Up & Top Up works perfectly for us to provide our retailers the chance to see everything ‘live’ and we will use the opportunity to look at as much product as possible for our 2022 season.”
Claire Packett, head of category at Leading Edge Group Jewellers, said she was “looking forward to welcoming members and suppliers to Stock Up & Top Up in November,” adding, “We also look forward to supporting and helping to bring people across the industry together, for what we hope is a strong and profitable Christmas for all.”
Zarb believes retailers will need to “work smarter” this year and review their stock between now and late October so they can identify gaps and restock accordingly.
He said that many retailers’ stock levels are “patchy as a result of the many [business] closures, so these [trade] events provide a great opportunity to top up any holes.”
“I think delays in deliveries and logistics might be a choke point this year, so we won’t have the luxury as an industry to order in early December and guarantee delivery. If we can work towards pre-orders and pre-deliveries now, let’s all hope that consumers bring out their dollars this December and we will be ready for it,” Zarb added.
Pocklington also pointed to the importance of retailer preparation: “We have advised our members to be conscious of supply issues as we get closer to Christmas, and to keep in mind the merchandise areas that experienced the most substantial growth from September 2020 through to May 2021.
“Both diamond jewellery and non-stone set gold jewellery recorded sales increases of more than 100 per cent on previous years.”
He also explained that “all Nationwide members attending the Stock Up & Top Up event in Sydney will be able to use our six-month interest-free finance for purchases from our preferred suppliers”.
Fitz-Roy hopes that achieving the vaccine targets will see further easing of NSW and Victorian government COVID-19 restrictions, which will allow interstate retailers to visit Sydney and attend Stock Up & Top Up.
Stock Up & Top Up will be hosted in a spacious Premier Room of the ICC Gallery and will include ‘Happy Hour’ Christmas drinks on Sunday night.
“A similar event for the gift industry will run concurrently in an adjacent room which will allow country – and city – jewellers looking for new gift lines, and perhaps Christmas decorations, to visit,” Fitz-Roy said.
He explained that one visitor badge will allow access to both events and while both will be smaller than the annual trade fairs, “there will be a great cross-section of product and key suppliers will be able to answer questions and reconnect in person.”
Fitz-Roy explained that limited spaces would be available in order to maintain a sensible buyer-to-seller ratio, along with offering a cost-effective package.
“We are making it easy for suppliers,” he said.
“Everything is supplied – space, trestle table, corporate signage and chairs and corporate signage are provided – all they have to do is bring their product, and smiley faces along. We are all hoping that we can finish the year on a high, I know everyone is wanting to catch up and have a beer together.”
Expertise Events is currently contacting suppliers with availability and booking information.