Our editor considers the 2011 IHMRS and the 2012 Forecast
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the 2011 IHMRS in New York City. While the event has morphed somewhat over the years, I continue to find value in the opportunity to interact with reps and factories in their booths and the variety of people you encounter in the aisles and at the wonderful event hosted by PBA Reps.
Compared to years past, there was a unique sense of calm permeating the show floor. That's because for most members of the supply chain, their 2011 fate was pretty much determined before setting out their shingle in New York's Javits Center. For commercial operators, a strong December can certainly shape the outcome for 2011.
Given that most foodservice equipment and supplies professionals know how their 2011 will end, most of the dealers, reps and manufacturers I spoke with have turned their attention to 2012 and are wondering how the next calendar year will treat them. Unfortunately, 2012 is not a NAFEM Show year so factories and dealers will have to wait for 2013 for the biennial event to stimulate sales. (And I continue to hear from a variety of people that NAFEM's Trade Show Advisory Committee is making some strategic investments in this event with the intent of enhancing the value it delivers to attendees and exhibitors alike.)
Despite the fact that there is no NAFEM Show in 2012, foodservice equipment and supplies dealers seem poised to enter the year on reasonably solid footing. For example, 45 percent of dealers surveyed for FE&S' 2012 Forecast Study said their booked business for the coming year is ahead of last year's levels. That's an 11 percent increase compared to what dealers reported heading into 2011. Also, 37 percent of dealers indicated the amount of business booked for 2012 is on par with what was in their pipeline a year ago at this time, representing a modest 5 percent increase. All in all, it is encouraging to note that only 18 percent of dealers report a decrease in booked business for the next year heading into 2012, that's a 16 percent decrease compared to last year.
The business environment for foodservice operators will not be without its challenges, though. Only 33 percent of operators project an increase in their foodservice equipment and supplies budgets, according to FE&S' 2012 Forecast Study. In addition, 46 percent of operators project their E&S budgets will remain flat and 21 percent project a decline.