Tens of thousands of home furnishings industry professionals came to the Las Vegas Market Aug. 1-5 to buy the latest products, observe the top trends, and share business insights in an effort to boost their bottom line for the second half of the year.
According to exhibitors (200 of which showed for the first time) an aggressive approach to new product introductions and show specials drove better than expected orders throughout the five-day event.
The surge in buyer attendance delivered the strongest Summer Market numbers in 3 consecutive years, up 7% in total retail stores and up 3% in individual buyers and designers when compared to 1 year ago. The number of buying groups in attendance doubled with a significant number of buyers attending Las Vegas Market for the first time.
Moreover, international buyer attendance was up 23 percent over last year, with particular growth in Latin American countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela,and Panama. Additional international outreach efforts, aimed at hosting large overseas buying delegations, further boosted attendance and translated into strong order-writing for Las Vegas Market exhibitors. In all, 95 countries were represented and more than half of these were first-time attendees.
“Our growth in new resources at the recent market, coupled with compelling events plus the number of new products and specials we’re seeing throughout the showrooms has enhanced the value proposition for buyers to attend,” said Robert Maricich, CEO of the International Market Center, parent company of World Market Center Las Vegas. “Summer Market is a terrific vehicle for smart retailers to impact their fourth quarters with new product and exciting merchandising strategies.”
Delivering this uptick in buyers is a result of recent success in leasing efforts and the combined outreach of the showrooms. In total, World Market Center signed 440,000 square feet of new and renewed space in the first half of the year. These new showrooms joined the 1,300+ exhibitors at Summer 2011 Las Vegas Market. In the temporary exhibit areas, Las Vegas Market featured 156 new-to-market exhibitors spread across floors B2, C4, and C5.
“These new signings, expansions, and renewals signal the value of World Market Center’s platform across all of the sectors we serve. These companies see the benefit of building their brand, reaching new buyers, and achieving success in the marketplace with International Market Centers as their long-term partner,” Maricich added. Manufacturers were pleased with the amount of traffic and used the August Market to showcase many new introductions.
Chris Miller, national sales manager for Four Hands, had one word to describe the market: “Fantastic.” He continued, “We’ve seen a lot of major customers and a lot of new ones who have never shopped with us before. The majority of showroom visitors are buying. Market seems to be more serious than in the past which is extremely encouraging.”
“The first day of Market was fantastic, with really strong traffic and orders,” said David Gebhart, president & CEO of Global Views. “Compared to January Market, the feel is very similar. We had buyers from all over the country and internationally.”
Without a doubt, one of the most-talked-about events at market was the presence of President Bill Clinton, who provided the keynote address, co-sponsored by iComfort by Serta. A rapt audience of more than 10,000 packed the World Pavilions on the World Market Center Las Vegas campus to hear Clinton speak.
President Clinton spoke on globalization, the importance of charitable giving, and also provided relevant insight into the world marketplace from his perspective. Following his speech, he answered questions highly topical to the furnishings industry, sharing his views on the housing market, the anti-dumping debate, as well as issues related to sustainable furniture and wood sourcing.
Referring to a recent, personal home furnishings purchase, the former President joked that that “Thanks to my wife – and not because she’s Secretary of State, but because she’s a homeowner – we single-handedly tried to compensate for the recession in home furnishings this year. We did our very best to offset it.”