The furniture and bedding industry made their biannual trek to Las Vegas this week for the winter edition of Las Vegas Furniture Market – one of the largest gatherings of industry professionals in this channel you’ll come across. Covering some 5.3 million square feet of exhibit space in three buildings and a convention hall, World Market Center in Las Vegas is an absolute behemoth of a campus that’s replete with more names and brands than you could possibly think of.
But the size and scale of this operation makes it the perfect place to sink your teeth into everything furniture and bedding – and other related categories. Bouncing from showroom to showroom and building to building you can spot trends and gauge how the industry professionals feel about the direction of the channel. It’s also a great reminder of how – despite the size and breadth of the industry – it really is a small network of professionals who, no matter what the business name on the badge reads, support one another and care about the growth of everyone involved.
Attending this Winter Market and speaking with so many manufacturing and retail partners, a few key things did stand out that are certainly worth sharing. (You can catch up on those conversations over on our F&B Events page right now!)
2023 Happened. Let’s Move On.
Winter Market felt, first and foremost, like a chance for everyone to come together, realize the year we just got out of and collectively exhale. Hit the reset button. Start anew.
It’s no big secret that 2023 was a dogfight for retail. Manufacturers certainly felt it too. But it seemed like their approach to this show was to truly use it as an opportunity to clean the slate and move forward. No one was sugarcoating how the past 12 months looked. Sure, some manufacturers (and retailers) fared better than others. But everyone involved could look at the past year, learn from it and move on.
And, at the risk of sounding overly optimistic, consumers proved to us all that despite what every economist seemed to predict about the economy, they were still out there spending. Not as much as the previous 12-24 months, but they were still out there.
Positive Vibes Heading Into 2024
The “New Year, New Me” way of thinking is great and all, but believe me, we get it. Just because we turned a page on a calendar doesn’t mean we actually get some sort of fresh start or clean slate when it comes to the economy. The headwinds that existed over the back half of last year could well continue into 2024.
However, judging from the conversations we had around the World Market Center campus, many manufactures and furniture and bedding industry professionals believe that all signs point to a better year ahead. As was mentioned, consumers continue to do everything they can to disprove the economic doomsdayers. And with the understanding that there will be several rate cuts this year (according to the Fed), the tide (or vibe?) should begin to turn over the course of the next 12 months.
Important to note, though, is that 2024 is an election year, and we know what kind of impact that can have on the consumer’s psyche. So, cautious optimism is advised.
New Colorways Make a Splash
Every showroom that we walked into at Winter Market seemed to pop like never before. The product itself is always exciting for us to see and experience in-person. But this show in particular showed just how wide the color pallet has become in the furniture industry. From sofas (of all fabrics and finishes) to case goods, entertainment units to décor and accent pieces – new colors were all over this show. While it’s not uncommon for some brands to show unique color options, it was something that seemed to be running rampant all over World Market Center.
What’s more intriguing about the new color entries, though, is how each showroom displayed their product. There might’ve been six of the same exact sofa arranged in a unique way, but the fact that all six were different colors made for a truly eye popping and intriguing display. It’s that kind of thoughtfulness and aesthetic that’s almost more important for attending retailers to experience than the product itself.
The way manufacturers had various colors displayed throughout their entire showrooms made it so your eyes were forced to wander through every corner of the space, wanting to see and engage with everything they had to offer.
Gotta See It To Believe It
Common sense might tell you that, if you’ve been to one trade show you’ve been to them all. However, common sense shouldn’t be applied to any of the Market events, especially the Winter and Summer shows here in Las Vegas.
It’s one thing to attend a trade show and walk into a brand’s booth and see some of their product and talk with their team. As a retailer, Andmore’s Market events provide a much more wholistic, engaging and educational experience than anything you can get in an expo hall. Instead of a jampacked space surrounded by other jampacked spaces, at Market, you get to walk into a showroom that more or less resembles a true retail environment. You get to see and experience, from a brand’s perspective, how they’d merchandise a store to best attract and engage a customer.
(To be totally transparent, the PrimeTime Expo, while a trade show in the fundamental sense, is about far more than just seeing product. Our Members attend that show to take advantage of exclusive offers and money saving opportunities only available to in-person attendees. Not to mention the world-class education and other networking opportunities made available to attendees. So, we can exclude that event from this comparison.)
Las Vegas Market – or the High Point or Atlanta Markets – is truly something that needs to be experienced. Words can’t do the campus, the showrooms any sort of justice.
On that note, PrimeTime attendees in the furniture and/or bedding categories will have the opportunity to get a taste of the World Market Center Campus during the March event. The Nationwide team will be shuttling retailers over to the campus for a series of curated tours of our Vendor Partners’ showrooms. Head to www.nationwideprimetime.com to learn more and sign up to take part in the tours. Space is limited.