Demand for fresh, new product drove retailers and designers from the Western United States and beyond to the August 22-26 Las Vegas Market with exhibitors reporting healthy order writing for immediate needs and future planning. Overall attendance at the summer market - held one month later than usual – exceeded attendance over the market’s April edition and represented about 60% of summer pre-pandemic attendance.
“Las Vegas Market has continued its positive recovery trajectory despite recent setbacks in the nation’s response to the pandemic,” said Bob Maricich, International Market Center (IMC) CEO. “This week again proved that Las Vegas Market is the preferred Western location for discerning buyers and brands to come together to get business done.”
In addition to its core West Coast audience, Las Vegas Market attracted a nation-wide audience with buyers from all 50 states with notable increases from the Northeast (32%), Southeast (19%), Southwest (10%) and TOLA (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas) (11%) regions. International traffic is rebounding well with a 60% growth over April 2021 and buyers from 42 countries. Gift category attendance was especially strong, with an 11% growth over April attendance.
Buyers Glad to be Back to Las Vegas Market
Product discovery and the in-person market experience were key motivators for buyers at the summer 2021 Las Vegas Market, many of whom were returning to the market for the first time since Winter 2020.
“There is no substitute for shopping market live,” said Dirk Lorenz, owner of Fremont Flowers in Fremont, CA. “Using all my senses when shopping makes for a much better experience after a year plus of doing so much via zoom and using websites to source products.”
“The Las Vegas Market is important because in-person touching, feeling, and seeing products is imperative,” added Mike Norris, buyer for Gallery Furniture in Houston, TX.
Buyers also were excited for the full Las Vegas experience. “I love Vegas, I think it’s fun,” said Trish Mitchell, executive director of 4RKids in Enid, OK. “We found a really good product that I don’t think anyone in our area has. I just can’t imagine it not going over huge.”
Lisa Ryan Whyte of Whyte House Design in Chandler, AZ posted about her first-time visit to market on Instagram: “This was an eye-opening experience into the world of design, furniture and accessories. I loved checking out all of the vendors and finding some great options for my clients.”
Immediate and Future Needs Bring the Buyers
Across gift, home décor and furniture, exhibitors reported serious order-writing from buyers not only completing their sourcing for the fourth quarter but also getting a head start on their 2022 ordering.
“The Las Vegas Market was consistent with high quality, well-educated buyers and designers that arrived prepared to place confirmed orders rather than write notes or hold orders,” added Global Views CEO David Gebhart. “We saw customers from all over the US with the usual heavy concentration from the west coast as well as many from Texas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Florida. We even welcomed several customers from Canada and Mexico.”
“We didn’t see the ‘catalog collectors’ this market. Everyone that came in had the intention of buying and orders have been really big with retailers buying deeper,” said Sande Womack, principal of New Era Sales Team (NEST) which represents 55 lifestyle brands including a new expansion into gourmet foods. “Our whole marketing campaign for this market was planning and pre booking for 2022, but we had a lot of people come in seeing if they could still get Christmas 2021.”
Crossover with the concurrent HD Expo and ASD also drove traffic to Las Vegas Market. “We've been able to court some of the HD Expo attendees who have come over to World Market Center and once we get them into our showroom, we win them over,” said Vanguard Furniture Vice President of Sales John Pigg, who reported giving look books to some 2,000+ designers at market. “We are thrilled to be here, because it's an opportunity to see a lot of customers that would not make it to High Point.”
Temporary Exhibits Build Business in the EXPO
Las Vegas Market’s temporary exhibits hit their stride in the new EXPO at World Market Center, with exhibitors reporting strong shows and many new accounts.
“We had the strongest first day in the history of our company at this market with 60% new accounts. I've never had that kind of response in any market before,” said Carlos Arias, founder and CEO of Inspired Peru which imports handmade gift and home décor from Peru. “The quality of the customers and the buyers at Las Vegas Market has been really good. That's exactly what a brand like mine is looking to find at market: customers who are not just knowledgeable in what they're looking for, but also open to the new products.”
“Our goal when we came to Las Vegas Market was to build some accounts that are out west, people that we cannot see in the south,” said Lori Newell, founder of Birmingham, Alabama-based Crave Candles. “We have accomplished that goal, because we've opened accounts in Utah, Montana, California, and one here in Las Vegas.”
“We signed up last minute, so we didn't really know what to expect, because obviously, we've been out of out of show practice. It definitely blew all the expectations that we had coming in,” said Danne Semeraro, founder of Sempli glassware who worked with independent retailers, multiple-location retailers, corporate gifting buyers and restaurants and hospitality specifiers at market. “I think that moving into the amazing EXPO building is the best thing that could have happened to temporaries at Las Vegas Market.”
“There's been great enthusiasm amongst the buyers for being able to finally see, touch and feel products and to see people again. We were really glad to be at Las Vegas Market and super grateful that the World Market Center is open,” said Carina Santoyo, founder and owner of handcrafted lifestyle brand Ceremonia. “We are super enthusiastic about the future of our wholesale business and our partnership with Las Vegas Market. We hope to keep returning for many years to come.”
Buyers echoed the brands’ enthusiasm. "There were such cool new vendors in the temporary exhibits. We found some new vendors and returned to the people who know and support ZAG,” said Judy Rancour, director of Retail Operations for the Saint Louis Zoo and Zoo, Aquarium & Garden Buyers Group (ZAG) Board President. “The EXPO is so much more impressive than I'd anticipated. The new space is fabulous, there's such a good vibe.”
Return of At-Market Events
The Summer Las Vegas Market marked the return of in-person events – with masking and proper social distancing protocols in place – with strong attendance at six trend-focused at-market activities. Live seminars included IMC’s proprietary FIRSTLOOK and Ahead of the Curve programs and sessions with design and retail thought leaders. The ANDYZ, hosted by The Las Vegas Design Center (LVDC) and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) California Central / Nevada Chapter, also brought the design community together again to celebrate resilience and recognize excellence, with 11 winners in 10 categories.
On-campus experiences showcased the trends and celebrated the at-market experience. The First Look Display welcomed buyers from the EXPO into Building C with engaging representations of the themes: EARLY TO RISE, SPECIAL EFFECTS, HOME & AWAY and ’80s BEATS. Three Market Snapshot vignettes showcased the 54 finalists including 6 winners.
Onsite activity surrounding Juniper was brisk with buyers clamoring to pre-register for JuniperMarket – IMC’s new digital e-commerce marketplace launching later this year. JuniperMarket photo-booths also heightened the energy by encouraging buyers to share their market experiences via social media, with designer Olivia Stevens from Allentown, NJ and Ariel Richardson of ASR Design Studio from Escondido, CA, winning Juniper’s iPad giveaways. Juniper’s showroom and activations were busy with suppliers interested in both the marketplace as well as the JuniperCommerce suite of SaaS tools.
Additionally, some 20+ buying groups and trade associations held meetings, gatherings and buying visits at the Summer 2021 Market.