Based on comments and observations from the April High Point furniture market, it's once again a very good time to be in the furniture business. High Point, located in the central part of the state of North Carolina, hosts the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world, bringing more than 75,000 people to the area every six months.
From the perspective of retailers, designers, manufacturers, and importers, across all price points and in various markets, including upholstery, case goods, patio, accents, bedding, and contract, all anyone could talk about was how good a market it is.
Furniture is very dependent on the housing market, and with new starts and existing sales up, and with multi-family units being in high demand, the furniture is benefitting. The other significant driver of retail furniture sales is consumer sentiment, and with home values up, more people working, the stock market doing well, inflation low, and lower energy prices freeing up disposable income, people are again spending money on furniture. Those that are moving into new spaces are buying new furniture and those that aren't moving are renovating.
Because of the positive outlook, many companies are expanding into other offerings. Motion companies are offering stationary pieces and vice versa, case goods companies are offering upholstery and vice versa. Companies are broadening their lines and improving their styling with the ultimate beneficiary being the consumer.
Within the industry there are some trends to note:
Smaller scale furniture is also selling better than average. With multi-family units becoming more popular (baby boomers downsizing, and subsequent generations not going for mcmansions but opting for smaller spaces, often in the cities instead of the suburbs) the companies that design products to take advantage of this trend are doing very well. To bolster this point, Jared Kushner, CEO of the
Kushner Companies, says Millennials, particularly younger ones, helped usher in a trend towards amenity-rich properties in urban areas. To read more about Millennials, click
Another factor that retailers and manufacturers are taking into account is shipping. Consumers want instant gratification, and the retailers and manufacturers that can offer quick shipping have an advantage over their counterparts that are not offering fast shipping. Consumers, especially the younger ones, would rather have a quick delivery than 100 different fabric selections.
Based on the hubbub at this year's Spring High Point, 2015 is may shape up to be a strong year for the furniture industry.
Michael Hudgens is Southeast Regional Manager of CIT Commercial Services. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing new business, client retention and profitability. Hudgens earned a bachelor's degree and an MBA from Clemson University.
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