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Research sees 2014 improvements

Research sees 2014 improvementsAlthough 2014 has yet to reveal itself, Dana French, our highly skilled director of research, is predicting that furniture and bedding retail sales will perform much better this year than they did in 2013.
     In fact, if you are looking for specifics, Dana's group believes that consumer spending for furniture and bedding will be up a healthy 3.5% from the anemic 1% posted in 2013.
     Even more reassuring is the fact that virtually all the other sources that track furniture and bedding activity agree that 2014 has the potential to be a rebound year for us.
     For as long as I have been reporting on this sector, housing, along with employment rates, consumer confidence and consumer spending, have always been identified as the key drivers of our business.
     Taking a look at Dana's numbers for 2014 (on pages 38 and 40 of this issue), it is clear that housing may go down in the books as the key driver to furniture and bedding sales this year.
      Even with 30-year fixed mortgages creeping very close to the 5% mark, they still are historically very attractive and should help fan the flames as the housing market recovers.
     The good news for us is that housing looks like it will continue to improve. Housing activity is projected to be up across the board, including sales of both existing and new homes.
     Also helping to brighten the picture was the report indicating that consumer confidence had surged higher than expected in December.
     So, where does that leave us as 2014 unfolds? To me, we will be operating this year out of a decidedly mixed bag that is sure to present both tricks and treats.
     Every day, when you open your door for business, you have no choice but to reach into that bag and pull something out.
      The more deliberate you are in terms of your strategic planning, the less likely it is you'll be left holding a bag filled with unwanted tricks.

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