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Business, Las Vegas

Buyer Turnout at Las Vegas Market Tempers Fall Market Expectations

Many area rug executives, who in the early summer anticipated Las Vegas attendance to be stronger than the April event, report the surging Delta variant is again making buyers hesitant to attend markets -- but expect rug orders to continue.

Lisa Vincenti
buyer's entering Las Vegas world market center
Many area rug execs said that the rise in the Delta variant resulted in cancelled appointments at
the World Market Center (above) August show.

LAS VEGAS -- At the beginning of summer, as vaccine availability expanded to all Americans ages 12 and up, most executives surveyed by RugNews.com were feeling bullish on market's returning to pre-pandemic levels.

However, with major swathes of the population remaining unvaccinated and with COVID cases and hospitalizations soaring -- including in major home furnishings market locations such as Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina -- that optimism has waned and rug players at the late August Las Vegas Market said some buyers opted not to attend. And as the Delta surge continues to wreak havoc across the nation, its impact will very likely be felt at the October editions of both New York Home Furnishings and High Point markets. However, as the area rug industry heads into its busiest selling season, rug makers, loaded up on new collections and anticipated High Point debuts, predict fall rug sales will continue to rally.

"In April we felt the traffic slightly exceeded our expectations, while in August it did not. Unfortunately many buyers canceled leading up to the August market, due to concerns about the Covid variants, as well as the mask mandates in the market center," Austin Craley, VP of sales at Loloi, told RugNews.com. "The cancellations came from all areas, including many customers from states closer to Las Vegas such as Arizona, California and Colorado.

"August Vegas market was unusual, in that overall attendance was down, but the order volume was up. The average order written was much larger than usual, as those buyers who came were serious and wrote large orders," Craley added.

He noted that the company has not changed its expectations for the October shows in New York and High Point. However, if Covid has taught the industry anything, "Once you think you have it figured out, it changes again. We will be prepared for every customer who attends the October markets, with what we feel are the best products, prices and service in the industry. Not to mention having inventory ready to ship during the busiest months of the year!"

Loloi introduced its latest partnership, Carrier and Company x Loloi, at Vegas market. Shown, Bond

At Feizy, the Dallas-based rug maker, reports that while some long-distance clients cancelled appointments for the August market, the company posted a 172 percent comp over the previous summer market, which was "excellent," Justin Yeck ,vice president,omnichannel sales, marketing, product development & design, said. Development & Design. "We found clients were looking most for in-stock and unique pieces for their clients homes. We’ve been incredibly fortunate this year that due to our consistent in- stock levels we posted increases over pre-pandemic numbers for all of our markets so far."

Yeck noted that the company held a large number of virtual appointments with its clients and those reps who did not attend market were prepared to present new product the same week it was debuting in Las Vegas.

"We are incredibly bullish on our projections for High Point Market, so bullish that we invested in a lease on an additional 5,000 square foot showroom at 2300 Showplace. This additional way to shop Feizy will give our clients who are on tight timelines the ability to shop us in two locations! We do expect attendance to be stronger than in the past and as always it’s always dependent on where we are in the pandemic."

Feizy added several new collections to its Fine Rugs assortment for August market attendees, including the tufted
Everly. Shown, EVE-8644F

At Nourison, while attendance was better than at the April Vegas event, it was still light. "A lot of retailers we saw in Vegas were mostly Midwest to West Coast, or those that hadn't been to a market in a while," said Giovanni Marra, director of marketing and digital strategy. "We did have some good customer appointments and meetings -- and good orders." So while traffic was better than expected compared to pre-pandemic levels, it was lower than normal, he said.

"Buyers are still looking for product that is in-stock -- that is the first thing they are looking for and that they can get product quickly. Thankfully we are in a healthy inventory position so the majority of product we have, we have inventory of."

Nourison, which focuses its fall markets on its higher end collections said top performers in Vegas included its ever-popular hand-tufted Prismatic assortment. Prismatic, crafted of a wool blend and woven with gently shimmering silk-like fibers, added new designs, and the 3D-like abstract designs resonated with market-goers.

In addition, Nourison's Starry Nights collection, which offers vintage-style traditional motifs with intricate carving, also was a top seller at the August market.

The hand-knotted Starry Nights collection by Nourison was a top choice with Vegas shoppers. Shown, STN-08
Dynamic Rugs also reported that buyers cancelled market plans in the runup to the August event, due to concerns of rising COVID cases and hospitalizations . "In the months leading up to Las Vegas Market, the Dynamic Rugs team was extremely excited - the anticipation of going back to 'normal' led us to work in overdrive, bringing on numerous new qualities with captivating design work and color palettes.

"However, our excitement was tempered in the weeks prior to market as the Delta variant took away any hope of returning to normalcy," explained Matthew Rouhanian, founder. "Some of our buyers were forced to cancel their appointments and the more people we spoke to, the more it seemed that this summer market would be the same as the April market in terms of attendance -- if not worse. And sure enough, that did indeed turn out to be the case."

Nonetheless, attending the summer event proved worthwhile for Dynamic Rugs, headquartered in Maryland. "We were able to maintain some of our originally scheduled appointments, including one with Igor Yakovenko from Airbase Carpet Mart," Rouhanian said.

Igor Yakovenko from Airbase Carpet Mart gets a tour of Dynamic Rugs' latest designs, including the new Sirius
(shown, 4904-999) from founder Matthew Rouhanian.

"We also had a few drop-in appointments as well. And being able to see even just a few people face-to-face was an invigorating experience; nothing replaces the human-to-human interaction that forms the framework of our industry. There is no denying that personal relationships are essential to the B2B market and it is what we love about our job. Needless to say, we will never take being able to see our customers in-person for granted."

Harounian Rugs International (HRI), which has witnessed one of the best year's in company history, introduced 10 new collections for Vegas and was optimistic following spring shows.

"The traffic was very disappointing and the halls very quiet," said Greg Jordt, executive vice president, sales and marketing, "The customers that we did see, gave us very positive feedback on our new introductions and all of our 'in-stock' best sellers. There was lots of looking and not a lot of buying.

"April was one of our very best Vegas Markets ever, showroom traffic and visits to orders written ratio was great. Although Bob Maricich predicted that 'August in Las Vegas will be significantly better than April', that didn't happen. We started receiving a significant number of market appointment cancelations beginning mid-July. In reviewing the appointment cancelations and those who did attend, it was apparent that decisions were made not based on travel distance but more on the increase of Covid spread in their community and the general sense of safety.

"Our Vegas experience reminded us that there is no way to predict any market attendance and market business. HRI approaches every market as if it is going to be our best ever."

HRI's new hand-knotted Charlotte collection resonates with buyers for its neutral palettes and textural designs.

Kaleen Rugs, which is celebrating 25 years of business in the U.S., undertook a number of strategic steps in the past few years to bolster area rug and broadloom sales. Those decisions, including introducing machine-made rugs and broadloom and re-thinking its approach to its outdoor assortment, have helped boost sales even as the August market disappointed.

"Kaleen’s Las Vegas market was better than expected but still not back to its pre- COVID numbers," said Monty Rathi, COO of the U.S. division of Kaleen Rugs & Broadloom. "We did find that some of our buyers had canceled, we can only assume it’s due to the resurgence of COVID. Still, our sales have been up, especially of our new collections and introductions for 2021. Our LUXE branded collections which are brick-and-mortar only, have been doing great while the machine-made collections have been popular with our e-commerce and major retailers."

From Kaleen's new LUXE brand for its high-end hand-knotted, Sikri design 04 was a favorite of market-goers.

"Unfortunately, we expect the Delta variant to affect our High Point Market, however due to vaccinations we remain hopeful and eager to get back to normal," he said. "With COVID back on the rise in the US, we don’t have any plans to cancel our markets, just keep them safe for our customers and employees."

Not only did Kaleen's high-end LUXE brand’s Ali and Sikri collections perform well at summer markets, hand-tufted lines saw strong continued interest. "Our new editions in the Marble and Chancellor collections have been selling great,” Rathi said.

Looking ahead to the end of the year at High Point, Kaleen remains optimistic and is anticipating "great sales" from customers returning to market. "We are excited to share new additions to our Hilary Farr lineup which will continue her story of sustainability. And, we are debuting our new, larger showroom as well with a whole new look and showing off our custom rug line for the first time.

"Our sales have been up month after month, so we are hopeful to have a strong finish. We are going into our busiest time of year, and don’t see any slowdown," Rathi said.
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