Clint's Notes

Clint Engel
Hello! I’m Clint Engel senior retail editor at Furniture/Today, where I cover all things retail. I’ll use this blog to offer my thoughts on both the furniture retail scene and general retail, but more importantly, as a vehicle to bring in and link to other ideas and sources of information that could prove useful to you. I hope you’ll use this space to share your thoughts, too. Also feel free to contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.
  • Industry facing some tough times, but it's not all bad news after all

    As William Shatner once sang: I hate to be the bearer of bad news but … we’re all going to die. And now that this talk of this worst and final outcome is out of the way, let’s move on to some less bad things retailers and the furniture industryare up against — and hopefully in the shorter term. Some say sales were already sputtering, and now we’ve lost more business to two massive hurricanes. For the first time in a long time, my calls to see how Labor Day weekend turned out were met by a resounding, “Meh ... Read More
  • 7 takeaways from Conn's 2Q earnings call

    Conn’s managed to swing to a profit despite a steep drop in fiscal second quarter sales, and its higher-margin furniture business had something to do with that. Here’s more on this, the continuing impact of Hurricane Harvey and other takeaways from Conn’s earnings call with the investment community Thursday: Conn’s loses fewer business days to Harvey but … The furniture, electronics and appliance retailer lost about 100 selling days to Hurricane Harvey — not bad when compared to other storms, such as Hurricanes Ike and Gustav in 2008, which combined for 144 lost days, and Hurricane Rita in ... Read More
  • Harvey victims leave their Gallery shelter, but Mack's still providing

    I caught up with Jim “Mack” McIngvale again Wednesday. By now, you (and most everyone in this country) have heard about how he opened his two largest Gallery Furniture stores in Houston to shelter some 800 or so flood victims of Hurricane Harvey. All the families he took in during the storm left Friday, but McIngvale’s work continued. On Wednesday afternoon, he was out in front of his North Freeway location, directing about 1,000 people, who were waiting in line for free cleaning supplies, toilet paper, bottled water, soap and shampoo. “We’re getting about 2,000 people ... Read More
  • Big Lots sounds like TJX and 5 more takeaways from the 2Q earnings call

    Compare the second quarter earnings call of TJX Cos. earlier this month and Big Lots this week and you start to see a lot of similarities between these off-price giants. Both appear fairly immune to the so-called “retail apocalypse” that the broader retail sector has faced as consumers continue to shift to online everything; both say it’s their blend of quality, brand, fashion and price driving the consumer into stores (for Big Lots, it's “QBFV” or quality brand fashion and value, but pretty close); and both are building up a category offering in which they see great promise ... Read More
  • Are you using your employees or growing them?

    When I first heard Charlie Malouf refer to Broad River Retail’s human resources department as “human capital,” I thought it sounded kind of cold. Cold as in is cold, hard cash. Employees as capital. People translated to nothing more than dollar bills. Malouf, CEO of the Top 100 Ashley HomeStore licensee, conceded the term may have sounded strange to him, too, when he was introduced to it a few years ago. But after a quick explanation, it became clear why the name makes sense (not cents) and why we all should think about owning for working for businesses with ... Read More
  • 5 takeaways from Havertys' second quarter

    Havertys posted record second quarter earnings this week while sales edged up slightly. Here are some key takeaways from the follow-up earnings call with analysts. Making the most of less traffic. President, Chairman and CEO Clarence Smith made it clear that Havertys hasn’t seen a change in the industry-wide trend of declining physical store traffic. But the company is doing a better job of closing those who do make the trip and boosting its average ticket. In the second quarter, both closing rate and average ticket increased about 3% (the company has indicated before that its average ticket is ... Read More
  • Stop being a farmer and other takeaways from the Shift Tech Summit

    If you’re like me, Farmer Clint, (and you’ll understand that in a bit) the Shift Tech Summit hosted by Amber Engine and Reverie was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. The three-day event in downtown Detroit brought together retailers, suppliers, designers and others in the industry for part pep talk, part straight talk on how this industry can change, must change, and innovate in order to keep up with the changing consumer and thrive. As Amber Engine CEO Jennifer Gilbert put it, the summit was designed “as a means to bridge the gap between the home ... Read More
  • The insanity of retail sales reporting

    If you took a look at these headlines from early Wednesday, you might think consumers have given up and crawled into a hole: “U.S retail sales in May are weakest in 16 months” “Drop in US retail sales signals uneven consumer spending” “Investors look for safety after weak retail sales report” The odd thing is May retail sales weren’t weak at all. They were up 4% from May a year ago. Furniture and home furnishings stores did even better — up 4.4%. But for some reason the media and even the government underplay year-over-year numbers and compare sales ... Read More
  • Is the ‘retail apocalypse’ coming for furniture stores?

    In the past few months we started seeing some multi-store home furnishings retailers call it quits. Erdos at Home, for example, the 12-store, Dallas-based retailer that used to be I.O. Metro, “A different kind of furniture store.” And then early this month, Los Angeles-based Dearden’s, a 108-year-old credit-oriented chain, said it would shut down its eight stores after struggles that started with the recession. No rebound seemed to be in sight, CEO Ronny Bensimon suggested. Retail apocalypse. Retail armageddon. Those are a couple of the doom-themed names for retail consolidation bandied about by news websites such as Business ... Read More
  • Is authenticity the secret ingredient for Jordan's?

    I thought the whole “shoppertainment” movement at Jordan’s Furniture got started with the opening of MOM, the Motion Odyssey Movie, back in 1992, but CEO Eliot Tatelman corrected me. It was actually back in the 1980s, when Tatelman and his brother Barry first opened their Avon, Mass., store. That’s when they decided to make animatronic caricatures of themselves and set them in a little truck to greet shoppers at the store’s entrance. The brothers each had a cameras, joystick and microphone in their offices so whenever they wanted, they could bypass the recorded message and talk to ... Read More
  • Amazon furniture move dings Wayfair stock? Here’s why that doesn’t make sense.

    Furniture Today’s report Monday that Amazon was pitching a new program to furniture stores at the High Point Market may have played into a 5.4% drop in Wayfair shares that day. That’s according to some national business news outlets that picked up on the story. But it’s not making much sense to me. Let’s start with the news. Amazon representatives were here pitching a platform change designed to make it easier for furniture stores to sell on the e-commerce marketplace by dropping a longstanding requirement that these sellers must offer national delivery. Most furniture stores ... Read More
  • Retail Prophet Stephens warns furniture stores: Without a remarkable experience, “your days are numbered.”

    During the upcoming High Point Market, Furniture Today will delve into the topic of in-store experience and what it takes to get consumers off of that sofa and into the store to buy a new one. We’ll look at unusual display and technology ideas, the leaders in so-called “shoppertainment” and the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that leads some stores to offer up more than just product and price to encourage consumers to move from the small screen and into brick-and-mortar theaters to buy. We also have an interview with retail futurist Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, who just ... Read More