Nobody in our industry can deny that the past months have been grueling. It reminds me of an elite gymnastics competition. Retailers who were in excellent condition and pushed through with well-coordinated and innovative efforts to take advantage of lead traffic are doing well. Sure, some experienced a wobble here and there, but better than expected consumer demand has helped. Metaphorically speaking, it seems like it’s time to stick the dismount and return to more normal business. However, that does not seem likely anytime soon.
As consumers start to travel and spend more time and money outside their homes, we may experience lower demand for home furnishings. In Furniture World’s January/February issue, David McMahon advised FW readers to keep a close focus on inventory pipeline metrics. If you missed it, his article can be found at https://www.furninfo.com/Authors/DavidMcMahon/6. Not attending to these metrics may result, McMahon warns, in serious cash flow issues. Using customer deposits for cash flow will be an issue for some retailers.
Huge demand for home furnishings and other products necessary for pandemic life has clogged ports and disrupted shipping. We all know the result: backlogs, unhappy customers, cancellations and soaring freight rates. The most recent stimulus package may further increase demand, which will be good news for sales, but put further stress on supply. When conditions start to improve, perhaps by late this summer, retailers of all stripes may be stepping over each other to build inventories and prepare for the holiday buying season.
In this Furniture World issue, Jaye Anna Mize of Fashion Snoops says that consumers who decluttered their homes in recent months, are likely to make fewer but higher-quality home furnishings purchases going forward. Personalization, customization and DIY marketing content will become more important. A desire to live more sustainable lifestyles and do business with companies that authentically and transparently share their values will be big factors for successful retailers. Check out her interview on page 18.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Furniture World and wish you, your families and employees patience and focus in the coming months.
Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.