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Mary-Anne Hodgskin and John Pledger at the annual SAFTAD show

June/July 2010


will show fishing tackle way

When times are tough, people go fishing, says SAFTAD chairman John Pledger. But, what tackle are they going to use when going fishing? This year’s SAFTAD tackle show should show which way the market will be going during the next year

As the only trade show for the Southern African sport or outdoor retail industries, it is no surprise that the annual SAFTAD show (organized by the SA Fishing Tackle Agents and Distributors) attracts a growing number of retailers that are not fishing tackle specialists — but who do stock fishing tackle.

At the 2009 SAFTAD show 36% of the total number of retail stores that sent representatives were outdoor retailers — that was 5% up from the 31% in 2008. The percentage of sport & outdoor visitors grew from 20% to 21% in 2009. In 2008 nearly half (49%) of the retail stores that sent visitors were fishing tackle specialists, but in 2009 only 41% were from fishing tackle specialists.

This means that the exhibitors at the show get a much wider exposure to retailers who might not be their traditional customers — yet, who stock fishing tackle. An exhibitor whose agents mainly visit fishing tackle stores, are therefore able to meet new clients that they might not know of, or who are in outlying districts.

In 2009 representatives from 51 stores had never been at the show before, and in 2008 the number of stores that sent buyers for the first time were 59.

While most of the visitors come from Gauteng (nearly 100 stores), retail buyers from all nine provinces attend, as well as from Southern African countries like Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

Please note, all visitor numbers quoted for this show are the stores who were represented - not the actual number of people who visited the show. One store would, for example, send several buyers, who often visit both days of the show, but they will be recorded as a single retail store visit (for example, last year 658 people visited, but the relevant number is the 218 stores they represented). This is because it is argued that an exhibitor is only interested in knowing how many stores he will be able to sell to, not the individual number of buyers that will visit his stand.

While some shows electronically record each individual entry as a “visit”, SAFTAD only records one entry per store. This gives a true reflection of the actual number of retailers that sent buyers, while it can result in inflated visitor numbers if every visitor entry and exit over the duration of the show is recorded.

This tackle show visitor trend, that many stores that are not fishing tackle specialists, but actually stock tackle, is confirmed by the number of sport and outdoor stores that have requested to receive the annual Tackle Trader Directory, published by Sports Trader (these are all stockists of fishing tackle). Of the 1112 retailers that receive Tackle Trader, 24% stock sport & outdoor products, 19% are outdoor retailers, 16% sport retailers and 4% watersport stockists (diving and surf stores). Only 37% of the Tackle Trader readers are actually fishing tackle specialists.

Sports Trader has found that many retailers who would classify themselves as sport or outdoor retailers, especially in rural areas, have a substantial fishing section, where most of the top brands and most fishing facets are represented. Despite being classified as a sport or outdoor retailer, these stores would therefore stock a wide selection of fishing tackle products (not just baits and hooks) and would also buy high-end products for their clients that fish in fishing competitions organised by the local club.

Most retailers — including important chains — attend the SAFTAD year after year because this is an opportunity to see the latest products from most of the top fishing tackle brands in SA, many just launched at the major international shows like EFTTEX in Europe and ICAST (the US fishing tackle trade show owned by the American Sportfishing Associations). About 50 companies usually exhibit at the annual SAFTAD show.

This year’s show will be a good indication of what the impact of the economic recession has been on the fishing tackle market. During the past five years (2005 — 2009) the value of annual fishing tackle imports respectively grew from R107m, to R126.3m, to R159.6m and R191.8m per year — and then dropped to R161.9m in 2009. Imports of fishing tackle was 18% down in the first quarter of 2010, when compared to the first quarter of 2009.

But, as SAFTAD chairman John Pledger says: ‘When times get tough, people go fishing’… although they buy down. The products on exhibit at last year’s show reflected this trend — there were many more suppliers of baits and accessories than previous years, as these lower priced items can keep retail sales ticking over, even at a lower margin, while customers might not be able to afford to replace higher priced rods and reels.

This year the brands and products on show will reflect the way the industry is going: whether the top-end brands and items still sell as well as before because the rich are not as affected by the economic squeeze as the middle class. Coming so shortly after the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, it will also show whether the soccer memorabilia buying frenzy enabled retailers to spend more on other products … or whether they have over-reached themselves and have to cut back.

But, whatever the retail buying trend, in this uncertain economic climate it is probably more important than ever for all retailers stocking fishing tackle to make the effort, sacrifice a weekend, and attend the show in order to make an informed, discerning choice of what will best suit your customers’ needs. Most brands will be there, and there is no a better opportunity compare prices, compare quality and compare innovative new products on SA soil.

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