The best word to describe the mood at the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders Show and the current homebuilding market is “grim.” About 60,000 people attended the show in Las Vegas on Jan. 20-23, 40% fewer than attended the show last year. Exhibitors said they were not surprised at the attendance, given the state of the economy and market. Kohler, the plumbing and fixture giant, said foot traffic was off by at least 20%. “There have been more questions about how we are doing as a company than questions about our new products,” said one Kohler rep.
There were noticeable gaps in the displays, and many large tool manufacturers did not have their traditional large booths, choosing to tag along with Lowes and Home Depot in a co-op arrangement. “It is the only place they were selling tools before,” and they save money, said one Lowes representative.