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A Shifting Industry

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, September 19, 2005

There seems to be a very clear trend emerging from the most recent series in the summertime round of markets around the world.

Attendance definitely is down. Not precipitously, but enough to cause folks like exhibitors and visitors — if not the organizers — to comment.

This was apparent at Maison & Objet in Paris earlier this month, and at TIP and Decosit just last week.

There are a number of reasons for this decline, not the least of which is the tepid global business economy. Companies are streamlining their teams shopping these events, and some companies are looking harder at which events are really necessary.

One of the significant points of challenge for these markets is the supposed need to present major new trends on a every six month basis — a timetable that many at these recent events believe could be another reason buyers are limiting their visits to once a year or even more time between visits.

For the design mavens shopping these shows, there were few significant new trend directions. It was more a refinement or embellishment of clear-cut directions previously displayed.

Another issue is the proliferation of market events from Dubai to Vietnam to Brazil and many other locales that allow visitors to pick and choose sites more accessible to their home bases — even if they are not as broad-based as the so-called main event activities. It all seems to be part of the long on-going debate as to the value of formal markets in this era of instant communications and perpetual buying activity.

And add to this the attention that is being paid to the markets in China, with both retailers and suppliers elbowing one another aside to be first up with many of the local producers.

Now comes the news of a price increase in polyester that seems to be targeted primarily to the American market.

One of the extraordinary things about this price increase was its immediate time frame. No 30-day or 60-day window, but RIGHT NOW!

As many at Decosit commented, this only will add to the stress the American manufacturing community is enduring. And a number of customers of Chinese producers explained that the polyester supplies are part of the overall basic chemical and petroleum stream that is under governmental control. So prices for polyester are not expected to move upwards in that market.

What this all seems to mean is that the home furnishings world is more than ever in a state of flux.

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