‘Robust turnout’ for market

The Summer Las Vegas Market opened Monday with lower attendance expectations amid a devastated furniture industry.

Despite an expected 10 percent drop in registration from the average 50,000, Las Vegas Market President Robert Maricich said the week-long furniture show is still healthy.

“We will be down less than 10 percent in an industry that is declining between 30 and 40 percent,” he said Sunday. “So that is a really robust turnout.”

The 2009 Fall Las Vegas Market, held in September, drew around 47,000, according to market spokesman Andrew Maiden.

Maricich expected registration for this summer’s furniture show to reach about 45,000.

The market, which runs through Thursday, appeared to be off to a healthy start on Monday. People stood in long registration lines Monday morning, although some attributed the wait to technical difficulties.

“They were long during the day, but a computer was down,” said Karen Carranza, a buyer with Livermore, Calif.-based DK Furnishings.

Greg Griffin, another buyer for DK, noticed less foot traffic compared to other Las Vegas markets.

“It looks like there are fewer people in the halls,” Griffin said.

The market did benefit from some additional on-site registrations, and every bit helps in this economy, Maricich said.

“We staffed up for the registration, so we would be prepared. We had last-minute drive-ins,” Maricich said as he walked around the showroom halls. “I like lines.”

The market’s 1,400 exhibitor count was down slightly from the winter show’s 1,500 exhibitors.

The World Market Center Las Vegas has “been aggressive” in negotiating lease discounts for its tenants, Maricich said. All the original leases at the 5-year-old Building A were up for renewal in June, and 94 percent renewed, Maricich said.

“Those lease rates reflect the difficulty in the economy,” he said.

February’s Winter Las Vegas Market experienced a surprise jump from the previous winter’s show and drew slightly more than 50,000 attendees. But market organizers are not expecting any sizeable late surges this time around.

The furniture industry was showing new signs of life at the beginning of the year, giving the Las Vegas Market a needed boost.

Consumers’ interest in buying furniture has cooled since Memorial Day. July was very rough on furniture retailers, Maricich explained.

“In February, we all felt there was going to be a rebound,” the Las Vegas Market president said. “Memorial Day was fair, but then the industry fell to the recessionary levels.”

The setback in the furniture segment has benefited some higher-end market exhibitors. Kathy Ireland Home by Omnia experienced a bump in sales as its lower-end competitors dwindled, brand manager Anthony Manrique said. “We have done really well in the last two markets,” he said. “Our market segment can still afford to buy.”

First-time World Market Center exhibitor Brent Flegel was pleased with his results halfway through opening day of the show. Flegel, the national sales manager of Elegant: The Art of Lighting, also exhibits at the High Point International Market and in Dallas.

“It’s been surprisingly steady since 8 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “It makes us feel good about our insanity, to be here expanding right now.”

Contact reporter Valerie Miller at vmiller@lvbusiness
press.com or 702-387-5286.

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