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From Home Furnishing Business

Vegas Market Backs Shift in Casual/Outdoor Product Cycle

Buoyed by a 23% increase in buyers who said they were shopping for casual and outdoor furniture at last month’s market, Las Vegas Market officials are backing a shift in the category’s product introduction cycle that would put more emphasis on its winter and summer shows.

“Las Vegas Market is starting to see a paradigm shift in the way producers introduce and sell casual and outdoor furnishings, with a corresponding change in the way buyers shop the category,” said Scott Eckman, president of furniture and home décor Leasing at International Market Centers. “Casual/outdoor is one of the fastest-growing segments in the home furnishings category, and Las Vegas Market is now a known and proven destination for buyers.”

He said exhibitors and buyers reported an increase in business at last July’s market, and that stimulated conversation about changing the production cycle to make the January market in Las Vegas the primary product introduction venue.

Following the 2015 launch of two dedicated floors for casual/outdoor products, Eckman said the category has rapidly expanded to encompass a wide range of products – from furniture to umbrellas to rugs to outdoor fireplaces and more – and leading brands. He said corresponding buyer interest also has spiked, resulting in both increased traffic and order writing for exhibitors. 

Currently, the vast majority of casual/outdoor products are unveiled in September at the International Casual Furniture Market, which has been held at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart for decades. (The Mart also hosts a casual furniture pre-market every July.)

At last month’s Las Vegas market, Eckman said the market hosted a roundtable discussion with key executives in the category to explore the possibility of using its January show as the key product introduction market, and he said the reaction was very positive.

“January Market makes a lot of sense for us and for the industry -- retailers and manufacturers alike,” said Mike Gaylord, vice president of sales at Agio USA, a roundtable participant whose company unveiled its 2019 collections in January.

“We are looking to change the dynamic of the patio buying season, starting the process seven to eight months earlier than typically the industry has been doing,” he said, adding that there are big benefits to shifting to Winter Market introductions, including more promotions and better collaboration between retailers and manufacturers.

“Our buyers can get a preview of things that they wouldn’t otherwise see until July or August and can give us immediate feedback; this gives us the time to go back and fine-tune and make sure we have everything right for them to be ultimately successful at retail,” said Gaylord.

Eckman said roundtable participants also pointed to a problem with the current cycle, explaining that debuting collections in the summer and taking orders through mid-October creates a very small shipping window, which is challenging for some companies.

As the outdoor industry grows and becomes more customized, manufacturers need more lead time to fulfill orders and get products to retailers in a timely fashion to ensure successful sales, he said.

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