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  • Clint Engel

Effort to boost consumer spending on furniture still in progress

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Organizers of a new industry effort to boost consumer spending on furniture and accessories through a multi-pronged information program have decided not to meet as an advisory group during the Las Vegas Market.

Eric Blackledge of Blackledge Furniture here, who has been spearheading the Home Furnishings Council advisory group, said in an email that "many excellent ideas" came out of an October High Point meeting regarding content and distribution methods, with a goal of keeping consumer information programs broad-based and affordable.

The next issue, he said will be developing "a balanced and sustainable funding method."

At the time of the High Point meeting, the primary industry retailer associations who are key to a funding program - the Western Home Furnishings Assn., the National Home Furnishings Assn. and the Home Furnishings Independents Assn. - were in the process of negotiating a merger.

Blackledge said he hoped the merger would be completed this summer following a member vote. He said he will meet with WHFA's Sharron Bradley, who will become the chief executive of the new North American Home Furnishing Assn., and other industry leaders during the Las Vegas Market to discuss funding options, "with the intent of having a funding concept ready for discussion at the April High Point meeting."

He also offered the final results of a survey that was emailed to industry members before the October market. Nearly 67% of respondents said it is important for the industry to compete for a larger share of consumer spending, while more than 47% said the industry is doing a poor to very poor job of competing currently.

More than half the respondent said good quality videos on furniture selection and design issues for use on retailer websites would be useful or very useful, but a larger number - some 68% - said online and printable information on selection and design issues would be useful or very useful.

Eighty-four percent of respondents also said retailer education on marketing, merchandising, operations and sales training would be useful or very useful.

Interest in national consumer prize contests was not as strong, with 42% saying they would be useful or very useful.

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