After more than 20 years of covering the home furnishings market, my travel itineraries had become fairly reliable. I knew roughly when to expect a market to fall — or in the case of the High Point Market Authority, exactly when each show would happen for the next eight years. I knew how many days I would need for adequate coverage, taking recurring awards ceremonies or other must-see occasions into consideration. Booking my flights and ancillary arrangements was pretty much on autopilot.
Oh, sure, occasionally a market would change its date pattern. Remember when the High Point Market officially opened on a Thursday? Or events would experiment with alternate timing altogether — Las Vegas Market in September, a spring American Lighting Assn. (ALA) Conference. But such shifts were isolated and relatively rare. I was still able to maintain my cruising altitude.
2014 travel proved to require more thought … and guesswork. Dallas Market Center moved its lighting market dates ahead by one day, starting on the same day as the Total Home & Gift Market (Wednesday, Jan. 15, for winter) and concluding mid-afternoon Sunday instead of ending on a Monday. A growing number of Trade Mart lighting exhibitors had been ready for business on Wednesday anyway, but now it will be universal.
Similarly, AmericasMart-Atlanta adjusted its eight-day event to start on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, instead of Wednesday. And the Las Vegas Market modified its dates to start on Sunday, Jan. 26, instead of a Monday kickoff to accommodate its increasing crowds of gift buyers.
Add to that plenty of other novelty, like a co-located International Builders’ Show and Kitchen & Bath Industry Show for the new Design & Construction Week in February. Or the fact that Lightfair will be in early June. Other than old faithful High Point, it seems none of my perennials are blooming precisely on schedule next year.
While it may appear that show organizers got together and collectively decided to shake things up all at once, I think we’re really just seeing a pent-up response. No one wanted to rock the boat mid-recession, but calls for change continued, resulting in a firm finger on the “reset” button for 2014.
Ultimately, the most revolutionary result is going to be a rearrangement of our expectations. It will be interesting to see how buyer traffic and purchase patterns conform to this new calendar, and whether this behavior falls in line with the organizers’ agendas.