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Jay McIntosh

High Point Market registrations down 7.2% from last spring

Number of registered buyers also dipped

High Point Market officials said Thursday that 72,121 home furnishings professionals registered for the April 2-7 event, down 7.2% from the registration number reported for the spring market last year.

More than half of the registrants - 43,141 - were buyers. That number was down 6.4% from a year ago.

While High Point Market Authority officials disclosed registrations, they did not report actual attendance.

Brian Casey, president and CEO of the Market Authority, said those who attended this April's market expressed a new cautious optimism for an improving economy.

"In many cases, retail inventories have been depleted, so we saw that the appetite for buying was stronger than we've seen in recent markets," he said. "We also noticed a significant change in attitude. People are seeing signs of improvement in the economy and they are more upbeat in their outlook, both about their businesses and the market itself."

He also said that almost 9,000 registrants were first-time visitors to High Point. "We have worked hard to attract new buyers to market week, and our marketing efforts truly paid off at the April market," he said.

More than 3,000 international buyers representing 1,215 buying organizations registered for the spring market, as did close to 13,000 interior designers, he said.

This was Casey's last market. He will step down April 30 to become general manager of the Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center, a Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. facility under construction in downtown Cleveland.

"This market was a great finale for what has been an amazing five years here in High Point," he said. "The Market Authority will continue with its successful and popular marketing campaign that is specifically targeted to retaining existing buyers, reaching new national and international attendees, and promoting the market as a destination for interior designers."

The fall market is scheduled for Oct. 22-27, and registration will open in July.

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