The year 2017 is off to a great start if the buyer attendance and new exhibitor roster at the Atlanta, Dallas, and Las Vegas Markets are any indication.

Despite a tumultuous political climate – often a harbinger of a retail slowdown – the mood among organizers of the major home furnishings, gift, and residential lighting markets was unanimous. Each boasted record-breaking attendance, especially when it came to the number of first-timers, international visitors, and an expanded presence from participants hailing from regions further away than in years past.

“The buying power and global brands doing business here in January set the new bar for market performance — here and everywhere,” noted Kim Higgins, AmericasMart Gift & Home Furnishings Advisory Board chairman and founder and principal of 225 Unlimited. “Customer confidence was strong and sustained across every category and floor. The buyers were here, ready to buy, and they bought big.”

Cindy Morris, President and CEO of Dallas Market Center (DMC) reported similar findings. “Buyers came to Dallas in force and placed larger than average orders with renewed confidence. Across all product categories, we received positive reports from temporary and permanent exhibitors with many enthusiastically reporting their best market ever — which further illustrates that Dallas doesn’t just deliver buyers; we deliver buyers eager to write large orders.”

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According to the DMC, the biggest growth category is home décor, which serves both interior designers and retailers. The talk among attendees was the proposed 220,000-sq.-ft. Interior Home + Design Center, which will be open daily to the trade beginning in summer. Among the participants are Phillips Collection, Palecek, ZUO, Visual Comfort, and Ambella Home Collection. The Interior Home + Design Center is part of a long-range strategic initiative created to provide enhanced value to manufacturers by serving market-time attendees as well as the growing number of interior designers conducting business at DMC each week.

Organizers of the Las Vegas Market reported the January edition was its largest ever with overall attendance that surpassed last Winter’s all-time high, with a 13-percent gain in gift buyer attendance and a 3-percent increase of interior designers, plus traffic increases from categories of strategic growth and from key U.S. regions: Midwest (6 percent), Southeast (9 percent), and Northeast (14 percent). On the resource side, the number of total brands and lines represented topped 4,000 for the first time.

“Across the board, this was the busiest Las Vegas Market since we launched more than 10 years ago,” said Robert Maricich, CEO of International Market Centers. “Winter Market certainly reflected the overall health of the industry, with heightened business activity reported from showrooms across the furniture, home décor and gift categories.”

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