NAED Western Conference draws good crowd

There was definitely more optimism in the air at this week's NAED Western Conference in Palm Desert, Calif., than there was about two months ago at the NAED Eastern in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., which was held shortly after the presidential election and Superstorm Sandy, and before the first round of the fiscal cliff.

Some attendees said while 1Q 2013 is off to a slow start they expected business to improve as the year progresses, a view echoed bt Erika Wolford of Cleveland Research Co., Cleveland in her economic update in a Monday workshop. Wolford called the pause in growth during 1Q an "air pocket," and said she expects 2013 annual growth to hit 4%, the same sales forecast in EW's 2013 Market Planning Guide and published by Herm Isenstein of DISC Corp., Orange, Conn.

This week's NAED Western Conference returned to one of the most familiar locations on the NAED conference circuit -- the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort. By my count, over the last 20+ years NAED has held at a conference at the hotel at least six times. And although the weather was unseasonably cold in the area's Coachella Valley, for many attendees it was a welcome mid-winter respite, even if they didn't venture out to one of the dozens of golf courses in the area. NAED staffers said event attendance was approximately the same as last year.

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