What I’m thinking about now

By Steven Feldman – It’s hard to believe that 2021 is almost half way in the rearview mirror. All over the country things are pretty much normal, although I’d pay top dollar to see a real concert in a real venue. And I’d like to dump the masks on planes. (Full disclosure: No one can drink a can of soda longer than me — from New York to Florida, basically.)

So here we are, about to board the plane to Las Vegas. Lots of soft drinks. Surfaces is here, albeit five months late — and seven and a half months for the 2022 version. No one expects anything close to the usual pageantry. Yes, the show is about a third of its normal size. Retailers have had their new samples for months and manufacturers are already planning their 2022 intros. But that doesn’t mean Surfaces have no value.

The National Floorcovering Alliance is doing their Specialty Vendor Showcase as they normally do on Surfaces Eve. Many dealers will be there to get things going again. Many will look for friends and peers they haven’t seen in 18 months. Some miss the tables. And there are still plenty of exhibitors where a dealer can find something unique to add to their product mix that their competition won’t have seen by sitting on the sidelines.

So, what do I think about when I pack for Vegas? A lot of…

I think I’ll still see the usual suspects at Eye Candy. I think the 2022 version of Surfaces might be one of the best in quite some time. Assuming this is going to be the industry’s unofficial coming out party. I think the second half of the year will be good for frequent flyer accounts: Coverings, NWFA, Carpet One/Flooring America, FCA Network, CFI, Haines, NFA Fall, NeoCon, CarpetsPlus, NAFCD, Starnet. What am I forgetting?

I think how good things are now. Some manufacturers tell me they are sold out. Demand exceeds supply. I think how much logistics is currently a challenge. Have the empty containers shipped back to China. Not enough containers. Not enough boats. Not enough people to unload the boats. Not enough trucks to get products to warehouses. That is why you see price increases by the month.

I’m thinking inflation. They have printed so much money in the past nine months that it is inevitable. House prices are 10%-15% higher than they should be. You see it at the gas pumps and you see it at the supermarket. And everywhere else. The question is when all this will stop.

I think about how laminate is making its biggest comeback since Lazarus. It started last year and only continues. An executive recently told me it offers the best visual/performance/price story. And by the way, in my opinion any STAT report that shows the category down last year or this year is about as believable as Pinocchio.

I think it will be some time before the commercial returns in full. Although, if I’m to be optimistic, there is so much pent-up demand for travel that hotels may want to do some sprucing up. And the office environment has changed and may need to be adapted to accommodate smaller spaces and different layouts. Higher education has always had to compete for students; now they have to bring people in after more than a year of distance learning. Healthcare and K-12 should still be good; retail not so much.

I think one day I woke up and moderate West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin became the most important person on the planet. I think of how last year everyone made fun of when it was suggested that this virus had escaped from a lab. I think it’s high time Canada opened its borders.

Last but not least I think we are all lucky that we have been in this industry and not the hospitality industry for the past year, that we have our health and that we have come out of this pandemic much better than we could have ever been in 15 months ago thought.

See you in Vegas – this week or in seven months.

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