Whether you’re a one man-or-woman run business just starting out, or a 20-year-old company of 50+ employees, one should never underestimate the power of attending a trade show. In a recent article on Forbes, Georganne Bender, a retail speaker, consultant and recognized industry expert, and her partner Rich Kizer both stressed the importance and value that businesses of all sizes gain from attending trade shows.

“Over the years we have spoken to retailers who have avoided trade shows for a variety of reasons, but one reason that is fairly common is due to the expense of travel to attend. What they don’t realize, however, is that it actually costs them more by not attending. Missing out on your industry’s trade shows can impact your business success in a variety of ways, including the missed opportunities of finding new vendors, staying competitive to your competition, and not expanding your store’s inventory based on market trends and proven data,” says Bender and Kizer.

With that, we’ve compiled this list of nine must-attend retail trade shows in 2015 – Feel free to add and share your favorites!

CES International
January 6-9, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Why they say to attend: “International CES is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. Held in Las Vegas every year, it has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for more than 40 years—the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace.”

National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & EXPO
January 11-14, 2015
New York City, NY

Why they say to attend: “Today, retail’s big show is NRF’s flagship industry event held annually in New York City. The four day event offers unparalleled education, collegial networking, and an enormous EXPO Hall full of technologies and solutions.” NRF also has many other events including dinners and webinars.

February 17-19, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Why they say to attend: “With 85 years of experience and attendance from over 120 countries, we move fashion forward globally. From the fabric to the finished product, the hottest brands to the top designers, and the tastemakers to the power buyers, if it’s fashion, you’ll find it at MAGIC.”

ASD Market Week
March 1-4, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Why they say to attend: “ASD Las Vegas (held twice annually) brings the world’s widest variety of merchandise together in one efficient consumer-goods trade show that’s as easy to shop as it is to love. Loaded with quality choices at every price point, this well-established trade event continues to grow, attracting tens of thousands of loyal attendees from every retail and distribution channel who come here to discover new suppliers, new product categories—and new ways to profit.”

April 25 – 28, 2015
San Antonio, TX

Why they say to attend: “Knowledge, networking, relationship building and for some – several games of golf. The (2014) conference delivered all that and more!”

May 18-20, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Why they say to attend: “If you’re in the retail industry, then you need to be attending SPREE, the world’s largest event for the cart, kiosk and temporary retail industry.”

June 2-5, 2015
Chicago, IL

Why they say to attend: “Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition is the flagship event of the e-commerce industry. A gathering of retail trailblazers across every industry segment, IRCE is the event to network with and learn from industry leaders of all sizes. Total attendance at IRCE 2015 in Chicago is projected reach nearly 10,000.”

July 21-23, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Why they say to attend: “It’s the must-attend event of the year for smart pet retailers who want their businesses to succeed! Everything to expand your customer base, increase your sales and improve your profits is waiting for you right here.”

ABC Kids Expo
October 18-21, 2015
Las Vegas, NV

Why they say to attend: “ABC Kids Expo is your opportunity to meet face-to-face with domestic and international buyers, media and fellow manufacturers at the premier juvenile products show in the world! Don’t miss out on your chance to take home orders and get leads that will help sustain your business for months and years to come!”

Strengthening and building relationships with peers, vendors, potential or current customers in person, as well as keeping up with industry trends and competition is reason enough to jump on the trade show bandwagon. As a retailer, which trade shows do you attend, or why do you find trade shows valuable? Share with us in the comments.

Interested in food and beverage Conferences? Check out these 10 must-attend events.

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