What I’m thinking about now

Home Column What I'm thinking about now

By Steven Feldman—It’s hard to believe 2021 is nearly halfway in the rear-view mirror. Things are just about back to normal across the land—although I would pay top dollar to see a real concert in a real venue. And I’d love to ditch the masks on planes. (Full disclosure: No one can nurse a can of club soda longer than me—basically from New York to Florida.)

So here we are, about to board said airplane for Las Vegas. Lots of club soda. Surfaces is here, albeit five months late—and seven and a half months before the 2022 version. No one is expecting anything close to the usual pageantry. Yes, the show is about a third 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 won’t have value.

The National Floorcovering Alliance is doing their Specialty Vendor Showcase as they normally do on Surfaces Eve. Many dealers will attend just to get back into the swing of things. Many will look to see friends and peers they haven’t seen in 18 months. Some miss the tables. And there are still enough exhibitors where a dealer could find something unique to add to his product mix that his or her competition will not have seen by staying on the sidelines.

So, what’s on my mind as I pack for Vegas? Plenty…

I’m thinking I will still see the usual suspects at Eye Candy. I’m thinking the 2022 version of Surfaces may be one of the best in quite some time. Thinking that will be the industry’s unofficial coming out party. I’m thinking that 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’m thinking how good business is right now. Some manufacturers are telling me they’re sold out. Demand is outpacing supply. I’m thinking how much logistics are a challenge right now. Getting the empty containers shipped back to China. Not enough containers. Not enough boats. Not enough people to offload the boats. Not enough trucks to get product to warehouses. This is why you’re seeing price increases by the month.

I’m thinking about inflation. They’ve printed so much money these last nine months that it’s inevitable. Home prices are 10%-15% higher than they should be. You’re seeing it at the gas pumps and you’re seeing it at the supermarket. And everywhere else. The question is when does this all abate.

I’m thinking about how laminate is making the greatest comeback since Lazarus. It started last year and is only continuing. One executive recently told me it offers the best visual/performance/price story around. And, by the way, in my view, any STATs report that shows the category down last year or this year is about as credible as Pinocchio.

I’m thinking that it’s going to take some time before commercial fully rebounds. Although, if I want to be optimistic, there is so much pent-up demand for travel that hotels may be looking to do some sprucing up. And the office environment has changed and may need to be altered to accommodate smaller spaces and different layouts. Upper education has always needed to compete for students; now they need to draw in people after a year-plus of remote learning. Healthcare and K-12 should still be fine; retail not so much.

I’m thinking I woke up one day and moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia became the most important person on the planet. I’m thinking how last year everyone scoffed when it was sug- gested that this virus escaped from a lab. I’m thinking it’s about time for Canada to open its borders.

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

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

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June 7/14, 2021

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