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Supply chain problems a hot topic at Las Vegas trade show

Interior designers, furniture manufacturers and retailers convened Monday at the World Market Center in downtown Las Vegas to identify trends around all things home.

Summer 2022 Las Vegas Market kicked off Sunday for industry members to visit the center’s showrooms, make connections and identify popular styles for the next season. The biannual trade show takes place through Thursday and has more than 2,500 brands in the furniture, home decor and apparel industries.

Attendees in 2021 said shipping delays were the main issue as they faced higher-than-expected consumer demand. And this year, retailers and brands say they’re still working through supply chain issues that have plagued the global economy.

Jimmy Norris, vice president of business development for Houston-based lighting firm Visual Comfort & Co., said the supply chain issues that plagued the industry is still presenting challenges.

“The container issue has improved but it’s not great,” said Norris, referring to higher shipping container rental costs and bottlenecks at some U.S. ports. “But being able to get product a little quicker is better and the price has gone down slightly. That’s going to be with us, probably through the end of the year.”

Norris said Visual Comfort & Co. caters to a luxury buyer, who often spends several years planning and building their house. They’re able to educate customers about the long waits and explain what to use in the meantime.

“Consumers are much more tolerant than they were three or four years ago,” he said. “They were building something and business was going like gangbusters, their expectations were over the top, ‘I want it now.’ Now, it’s like, ‘How long will it take and what do I need to keep to get me by over the next eight to 10 months before I actually get the furniture?’”

Sukanya Bishnu, a Boston-based buyer with online furniture retailer Wayfair, said she works with suppliers to get their products into Wayfair’s internal network. She said a central issue within the supply chain is the increased costs at multiple points.

“The main thing is that costs have increased all over,” Bishnu said. “It’s not like just with one company or one component of it, the overall cost has increased a lot.”

Bishnu said she and her team at Wayfair try to address the issue by using machine learning to identify future trends so companies can sell their products on Wayfair at the right time.

Heather Carson, designer and owner of home goods store Field Study in St. George, Utah, had to change the way she operates.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” Carson said. “There was nothing, then there was stuff getting shipped to us that we ordered a year ahead. It was just trying to keep up with what’s coming, what’s not coming.”

“Before, I used to design a whole collection of what I wanted in my shop and then order and it would all come in. But now, stuff’s coming in so randomly that you kind of have to design on the spot and whatever comes in is what you get to work with. So, it throws a wrench in some of your plans,” she said.

Las Vegas Market returns for its winter show from Jan. 29-Feb. 2.

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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