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  • Ray Allegrezza

The seismic shift of retail

Ray AllegrezzaRay Allegrezza
Do me a favor. Whether you're in Vegas this week at the market, home working in your store, or on the road, stop and stand perfectly still and let me know if you feel movement under your feet.
     I bet that if you really concentrate you may, metaphorically speaking, feel a slight tremor.
     That metaphoric movement, at least to my mind, reflects a number of seismic shifts taking place right under the surface of the home furnishings landscape.
     One of those shifts involves the consumer. Granted, females are most often in the driver's seat when it comes to purchasing decisions, but recent studies, including one from Jacobs Media, suggest that 60% of women would make a purchasing decision based on the input of their partner or spouse.
     We may be better off thinking of her as them.
     There's also a seismic shift in terms of the makeup of our retail community. Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that employment among furniture retailers dipped 24% since 2006.
     Many of those now shuttered stores were once viable Mom-and Pop businesses. There were multiple reasons those stores closed. Some were under funded; some were poorly managed and others were fiscally sound, but lacked successors to keep them going.
     This has opened the door for expansion for a number of the well-capitalized Top 100 retailers.
     But they, in turn, are grappling with the delicate and often deadly balancing act of juggling expansion with integrating viable online strategies that will allow them to compete with the increasingly popular and powerful online merchants.
     And let's not forget the other seismic shifts involving product shifts in Asia, the resurgence of domestic production in the U.S., changing consumer demographics, design shifts and so much more.
     As I said, stand still and let me know if you feel anything. There's lot and lots of movement.

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