Notes from Vegas

I don’t think it is any surprise to say Vegas was a mixed bag. Obviously, traffic seemed down, and it’s a tough environment. Still I talked to one company that said, “Great show,” and another that said, “Best show ever.” (That’s right – ever.) The low expectations clearly helped things.  One person told me he expected to be 50% down and instead he was up.  

 

Bigger and better-known companies — the Plumb Club types — seemed to do the best. The high-end did well, too: I heard positive things about Luxury. Every year, it’s mentioned that exhibitors need to have appointments before-hand. That was particularly important this year with traffic down. The days when people could just come to Vegas and have a great show with no planning are clearly over.

 

Indian companies seemed to have a tough show, reflecting tough times in the low-end market. But big stones are hot right now, and companies selling them seemed to do well; there was talk of foreign buyers that came in and swooped them up. Most of the majors were there, but reports say they didn’t stay as long as in prior years.

 

So, the show clearly wasn’t a dud. Business was done. Yet, the market is becoming stratified between the bigger, better-known companies and everyone else.  

 

Hopefully the fact that Vegas didn’t fall on its face will add a boost to market sentiment. But it’s not great out there and we may all have to live with that for some time. 

Idex more or less agrees

One more thing: Obviously, the Rapaport price increases were big news; he was certainly grilled about them at his Monday morning speech. Some people feel his actions did boost prices, but obviously, many could not charge the full range of the price increases (as much as 25%, in some instances.) Some felt they hurt sales, as buyers were waiting for prices to settle. He has certainly stressed that people should not raise prices — repeatedly.

Rapaport has always said he doesn’t set prices, he reflects them. Yet his list is hugely influential — even though it is, by his own admission, one man’s opinion. But let’s remember that, in this information age, prices are far less opaque than they were. Today there are many, many ways to get price information — including from Rapaport’s own service, RapNet, which recently introduced a discount list. What “the list” does is incredibly important, and it’s clearly still a “must read” for anyone in the industry. But it’s no longer the only information point out there. To really understand prices, one must not just consult Rap but take into account everything else that is out there and happening …

JCK News Director