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  • Jerry Epperson

2014, 2015 hold promise of better business

Jerry EppersonJerry Epperson - An Insider’s View
Welcome to lovely downtown High Point. I am attending my 86th market and glad to be with 80,000 friends to share this week's event.
     You should be upbeat about 2014 and 2015, and recognize most of the excuses for having bad business are going away. Keep living the recession mindset if you want, but the rest of us are enjoying better business.
     What's better? Employment, household formations, new home sales, remodeling, incomes, available credit, existing home sales, household mobility, wealth thanks to a better stock market and rising home prices, consumer confidence, population growth, corporate profits and fewer troops fighting overseas. What's lower? The number of foreclosures, mortgage rates, inflation and the number of personal bankruptcies.
     What is worse? Just when you think Washington, D.C., could not get worse, it does. Even so, almost everyone is numb to politics and taking a "been there, done that" attitude.
     Recently I read an article in which apparel retailers were complaining that housing-related sales were hurting their business. Feel sorry for them?
     Every economic recovery since World War II, the big one, has been led by lower interest rates and a pickup in home sales. Not this time. Housing sales (excluding foreclosures) did not begin to really recover until 2012, the third year of our economic recovery.
     Last year, home furnishings sales started strong led by HUGE mattress sales with some months up 20% or more, then the year lost vigor later. This weakness carried into the early months of 2013, but starting this summer, first mattress sales began to improve, then furniture. Our momentum is building.
     Are you ready for the recovery? Does your store look like a recession is still going? I see a lot of that.
     Look at leaders like Art Van, Ashley Home Stores, Rooms To Go, Raymour & Flanigan, American Signature and others who are back promoting full steam like the recession never happened. They are creating a consumer awareness that should benefit us all, if you offer something different.
     Please do not try to out Rooms To Go Rooms To Go. It cannot be done. They are among our best so do not try to fight them on a price basis. Carry an entirely different mix and give the consumers an alternative.
     As I have preached for several years, there is a sameness on our retail floors that is so unnecessary.
     I dare you to tell me there are not lots of high value alternatives at the High Point Market. See you there!

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