January 21, 2022 - 7:01 am
New couches, beds and dining sets may be slower to arrive at a customer’s home than before the pandemic, but longer lead times and higher prices are not slowing down the home furnishings industry.
That’s the perspective of Bob Maricich, CEO and chairman of the International Market Centers.
The company’s biannual Las Vegas Market, a home furnishings trade show, returns to the World Market Center in downtown Las Vegas from Sunday through Thursday. Buyers and sellers are prepared for a strong event, Maricich said.
“Businesses of the buyers are just off the charts good and they need inventory. They need new merchandise,” he said. “They’re hungry to get to a market, and the ones that are attending the market are buying. They’re not tire-kickers there for the entertainment — there’s really serious commerce going on.”
It’s an industry that has acutely seen the conditions of the pandemic economy. Home furnishings and decor exploded in popularity when pandemic-related lockdowns were introduced, industry members said.
But supply chain disruptions, increased costs of shipping from Asia and the labor shortage have added to the market’s inflation. The index for household furnishings and operations rose 1.1 percent in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That hasn’t slowed shoppers, Maricich said.
“As long as there’s consumer demand, good things are going to happen — and there is really strong consumer demand,” he said. “Nobody likes prices going up, but it beats the heck out of an inflationary environment where the consumer demand is declining. We’re just not seeing that yet.”
The in-person market is invaluable for an industry based on how something looks and feels in a room. Officials with Currey and Company, a wholesale manufacturer of lighting and furniture, said that even though the pandemic led it to invest in its e-commerce presence, markets and showroom visits are irreplaceable for clients who want to gauge the scale of the product and see the craftsmanship details.
While it’s difficult for the company to provide accurate lead times, customers are not deterred from ordering, according to the manufacturer.
“The crazy part is that we have the largest open set of orders we’ve ever had,” Brownlee Currey, president of the company, said in an emailed statement. “We’ve never had this many orders at any other time in our history. And it’s not that anyone is sitting idly on the orders; we are frantically working to fill them.”
Markets hope to mitigate that uncertainty, Maricich said. Buyers and sellers can have more productive conversations about lead times and price increases while at the show. Additionally, anyone who needs product quickly can find a seller with inventory.
International Market Centers officials expect the winter show to draw about 60 percent of its pre-pandemic attendance. It generally attracts more attendees, they said, because some buyers prefer to start the year and some come after the holiday shopping season when inventory is depleted and they have more cash flow.
The winter show will include expanded furniture, gift and home decor resources and will mark the return of its proprietary at-market programming, according to a news release.
“The elements of Las Vegas Market that attendees love — the cross-category furniture, gift and home decor exploration, compelling programming and industry celebrations — are back in force this Winter,” Maricich said in the release. “We invite the industry to discover again for themselves why so many retailers and designers name Las Vegas Market as their buying event of choice.”
Las Vegas Market will return to the World Market Center for its summer show from July 24 to 28.
McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.