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Business

Rug Execs Cautiously Optimistic Heading Into Vegas Market

Rug players anticipate improved attendance with buyers hungry to see and buy the latest product in-person, but worries linger.

Lisa Vincenti
4/11/2021
image of buyers enter market center
Rug players anticipate improved attendance compared to August 2020 as buyers want to see the latest area rugs in person.

LAS VEGAS -- While Las Vegas Market rug players anticipate improved attendance with buyers who are hungry to see in person the latest product introductions, the mood of some is tempered by stock positions, rising costs and shipping delays.

In fact, area rug executives expect rising vaccination rates to improve attendance for the rescheduled winter Las Vegas Market, kicking off April 11, when compared to last August's event. And as more and more Americans receive their vaccines they predict market attendance going forward will return to somewhat normal levels.

Soaring demand for area rugs and home furnishings helped many industry players recoup the losses of nationwide shutdowns early in the year. However, that good news is being tempered by rising raw material and labor costs, as well as continued delays in shipments received from abroad. In-stock product continues to be paramount.

"Buyers are looking for styles in which inventory is readily available," said Giovani Marra, Nourison, director of marketing & digital strategy. "They are concerned with an increase in costs as well. We expect continued sales growth with scheduled appointments. Since some customers are still hesitant to travel, we expect attendance to be similar to summer/winter 2020. Nonetheless, we expect a positive turnout for our next virtual market after Las Vegas Market for those customers that aren’t able to travel to our showroom."



"Our clients have so many projects in the works that they are looking for in-stock product." -- Leighton Lloyd, Feizy


Feizy, which participated in the August Las Vegas Market, anticipates a slight increase in attendance. "Our clients have so many projects in the works that they are looking for in-stock product to fulfill a multitude of design aesthetics," said Leighton Lloyd, merchandising and brand manager. "We expect numbers to be a bit better than last market. People are starting to feel more comfortable coming out and they are ready to be in front of the product and connect with their favorite companies."

Likewise, said Brian Brigham, director of marketing at Kaleen, which celebrates its 25th year, "We are expecting about a 50 percent overall turnout, with only serious buyers looking to freshen up and fill their shelves.  Winter 2020 was an amazing show for us, it was our last show until the fall later that year and boasted record high sales for Kaleen. This year is up in the air, but we are still expecting better numbers than fall High Point."


"We found a lot of interesting ways to keep our business going during the pandemic. But we are turning a corner now, and feel we've got to start seeing people who feel more secure about going to markets." -- Greg Jordt, Harounain Rugs International (HRI)


At Harounian Rugs International (HRI), the mood is optimistic, but expectations are tempered, said Greg Jordt, executive vice president, sales and marketing. "We are showing because the pressure continues to build on retailers, designers, and everybody in the industry to get out again and see new products and trends.

"There's only so much you can do on a Zoom.  We found a lot of interesting ways to keep our business going during the pandemic, and did quite well actually. But we are turning a corner now with vaccines, and we feel we've got to start seeing people who feel more secure about going to markets."

Although the industry hasn't seen a price increase yet, Jordt says rug companies are preparing for some movement by the end of 2021. "Costs have just gone nuts -- from shipping to raw materials.  We have a lot of things in the pipeline, so an increase won't happen immediately.  We don't know what it will be, but it will be my the end of the year," he explained.


"We are definitely tempering our expectations – of course, attendance will be much lower than pre-pandemic markets. The demand for home textiles is higher than ever. So the need is there for buyers." -- Matthew Rouhanian, Dynamic Rugs


Business is still far from "normal" and buyers have been adapting to the new market conditions. "Our buyers are requesting details in advance to make meetings more efficient. They are precise about their schedules - - they want to know exactly how long the meeting will last night, what we are planning on showing, and they want the details on the rugs ahead of time to help expedite their decision-making process," said Dynamic Rugs founder Matthew Rouhanian. "For the first time in 25 years, we did not attend a Las Vegas Market last year. We are definitely tempering our expectations – of course, attendance will be much lower than pre-pandemic markets. The demand for home textiles is higher than ever. So the need is there for buyers, and as many of our buyers have expressed, in-person meetings are essential because touch and feel is a key component to their decision-making. Additionally, we are in uncharted territory with there being such a high-demand currently in conjunction with such trepidation in regard to what may happen the rest of the year."

Karastan's Mike Riley, SVP/GM Karastan Rugs, notes that the company has benefited from its domestic production as importers of area rugs have had to cope with supply chain and shipping issues throughout the pandemic. "We do have some scheduled appointments and we do expect “spotty” attendance, but we are hoping for the best as more clients get vaccinated. Most buyers are still concerned about COVID. Some who have had shots plan to attend, some hoping to have shots by the time they plan to attend, and others have reservations but, are still up in the air.


"Our buyers' top concerns right now are supply chain and importers challenged to keep inventory. This is a best time in history to be made here in the U.S. and loaded up on inventory." -- Mike Riley, Karastan


"Our buyers' top concerns right now are supply chain and importers challenged to keep inventory. This is a best time in history to be made here in the U.S. and loaded up on inventory with the ability to add stock quickly, even on the new items. We have the highest inventory level we’ve had in seven years in preparation," Riley continued, noting that 85 percent of the Karastan line is made in America. "We are going to market “in stock” on our new products and loaded up on existing inventory to take full advantage of the supply chain disruption, lack of containers and vessels getting offshore goods here."

Another beneficiary of having domestic production is Natco Home, and Mike Ferullo, executive VP Natco, said "Our buyers want to see newness as well as current success stories that they may not be buying. They also want to see domestic production that can ship quickly."

When it comes to rug categories, Trans-Ocean Imports is strongly positioned to take advantage of the growth in performance and outdoor rugs. "We’re always hyper-focused on performance/outdoor rugs and the trends there, which sometimes differ from the rest of the market," Stephen Hoberman,  VP of product development, Trans-Ocean. "Customers are expanding into parts of the home that were previously under-decorated -- like their outdoors -- and using accent pieces, and smaller sized items in smaller spaces for their pandemic projects."

-- Make sure not to miss RugNews.com's comprehensive fashion rug guide to April Vegas Market.
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