Expo West was to be held March 3-7 in Anaheim with an expected attendance of more than 85,000. Mounting concerns related to coronavirus and its impact on travel restrictions triggered a wave of cancellations among retail buyers and exhibiting companies beginning Feb. 28. On March 1, New Hope said it expected a 40% to 60% drop in attendance but had planned to proceed with the show, based on guidance from health officials.
The following day, more than 300 exhibiting brands had pulled out of the event, and entrepreneurs and industry professionals on social media urged New Hope Network to cancel or postpone Expo West. By the end of the day, New Hope, a business of Informa Markets, announced the decision to reschedule.
Startups and smaller brands may have taken the biggest hit from the move. Base Culture, which planned to unveil reformulated brownies and a brand refresh at the show, decided to opt out of the show before it was postponed.
”As an emerging brand with only 2.5 years at retail, Expo West is an incredibly important show for us,” said Jordan Windschauer, founder of Base Culture. ”Attendance unraveled quickly, and once our major retailers pulled out, we felt it was no longer a good way for us to focus our resources. Additionally, the health risk for the team was not worth the limited upside, but not being able to attend the show still hurts, especially for a small brand like ours.”