Furniture Everyday

Bill McLoughlin
I'm Bill McLoughlin, Editor in Chief at Furniture Today. In the 25 plus years I’ve covered retail the thing I’ve enjoyed most is the people; hearing their stories, learning about their companies and sharing insights on the business. Through this blog I hope to continue that dialogue. Sometimes you may agree with me, sometimes not. But it’s my hope you will find a fresh perspective and perhaps an idea or two that helps improve your business. I welcome your comments and look forward to a long and productive dialogue.
  • 5 strategies to leverage the power of your store

    Hardly a day goes by that a story isn’t published somewhere about the decline of retail stores and the growing dominance of the Internet. And there’s little doubt that some stores, both within the furniture space and without, will go away. However, there is a growing awareness that store-based retail offers some powerful opportunities for consumer engagement, entertainment and interaction that simply can’t be duplicated by a computer screen or cell phone, as Amazon’s increasing experimentation with stores attests. Furniture Today’s High Point Market issue offers several case studies of retailers who are using their ... Read More
  • Will Amazon vs. Alibaba emerge as a battle for global logistics dominance?

    It was one of those news stories that might have gotten overlooked this week and whose significance may only become apparent months or even years from now. A report in the Wall Street Journal this week noted that an Alibaba-backed Chinese logistics firm,Best Logistics Technologies Ltd., is preparing for an IPO here in the U.S., likely in September or October. With the company currently valued at $3 billion, it could be one of the biggest U.S. listings for a Chinese company this year, according to the Journal. The company currently operates 400 centers in China, three warehouses ... Read More
  • What will you do when business gets tough?

    That’s a question a number of retailers may confront this year. The battle for consumer discretionary dollars is more intense than at any time since the Great Recession. Despite generally positive economic conditions consumer spending on furniture remains erratic geographically, demographically and seasonally. With growth likely to be flat or in the low single digits for the foreseeable future, one company’s gains will likely be another’s loss. As a result, many retail business leaders will face difficult decisions about the allocation of scarce resources. When the first wave of difficulty comes and revenues get pinched, how will ... Read More
  • Let’s not start running from the Amazon Death Star just yet

    The sky is falling. The sky is falling. Earlier this week the New York Times reported that Amazon is planning to open brick-and-mortar furniture and appliance locations. The last barrier to the mega retailer’s conquest of the furniture store business has been breached. Certainly the end is near. Or is it? If you’ve followed the ebb and flow of retail long enough, you’ve seen this movie before. High tech mega retailer uncovers new way of serving consumers, disrupts traditional retail, puts lots of stores out of business, eliminates all competition and becomes the only successful retail format ... Read More
  • When furniture and philanthropy come together

    I’d like to shift gears this week from our regular focus on strategies to improve your business and instead talk about some people who are working to improve the lives of others less fortunate. On May 16, the Salvation Army of High Point will hold its inaugural Darrell and Stella Harris Champion of Hope Dinner. The event honors the long-standing commitment of Furnitureland South founders Darrell and Stella Harris, who generously supported the organization both professionally and personally. In speaking recently about the event with Captain Bobby Jackson who runs the local chapter, he recalled the deep and consistent ... Read More
  • Did Premarket reveal the industry’s Achilles heel?

    This week’s Premarket saw its largest number of exhibitors since 2014, and while attendance was somewhat curtailed by an unexpected storm across the Northeast, there were plenty of dealers in town, and some even came in early to get a head start (no surprise there). Events like this are always a good opportunity to assess the industry’s health, and I received some interesting responses to the question, “How is business?” This is one of those questions that typically elicit the stock response: “Good.” This time however, there was often a long pause, occasionally followed by a facial expression ... Read More
  • Is it a craze or just crazy? Build on cultural touchpoints

    About this time next week Disney’s live action version of Beauty & the Beast will open in theaters. That’s significant for at least two reasons. First, early reviews coupled with the usual Disney marketing machine all but guarantee it’s going to be a runaway hit, with the potential to become a short-term cultural phenomenon (more on that later). Second, it’s one of the few movies in which home furnishings play a starring (or at least co-starring) role. And that is an opportunity. Whether or not you are an official licensee or are running an official Disney promotion ... Read More
  • Why a new hire at Clive Daniel Home is more important to your business than you think

    In skimming Furniture Today’s newsletter or website for the latest news you may have glossed over a personnel announcement from Clive Daniel Home. The luxury furniture retailer with stores in Naples and Boca Raton, Fla., has just hired Robert Voelker as director of special projects and visualization. It’s a title you probably haven’t heard before, and a position that didn’t previously exist for the retailer. What’s significant about the post is what it says about the direction Clive Daniel Home sees its business going and the role that new visual technology will play in that ... Read More
  • Maybe it’s time to change the (furniture) conversation

    Last week in this space I raised the question of what would happen if housing activity declined and could no longer serve its historic role as a driver of furniture sales. It was a somewhat hyperbolic way of raising a more specific question: What can the furniture industry do to drive its own sales, to accelerate the replacement cycle and raise furniture to a higher position on consumers’ discretionary purchase list? This is an existential question, because if current trajectories continue furniture will become — at least for significant portions of the population — a needs-only purchase, replaced only when it breaks ... Read More
  • What if housing would never again drive your sales?

    The common axiom of the furniture business is that housing activity drives furniture sales. When the housing bubble burst in 2008, the furniture industry suffered near catastrophic setbacks, and the uneven recovery of the housing business since then has been a contributing factor in the furniture industry’s inconsistent recovery. There was good news in January as purchases of previously owned homes were up 3.3% and overall home sales hit their highest levels since 2007. However, the combination of low housing inventories and rising mortgage rates are serving as a brake on momentum, and expectations are that interest rates ... Read More
  • ‘AR’ you ready for the future of retail?

    There’s no longer a debate about whether brick-and-mortar stores must adapt to thrive among a new generation of consumers growing up on e-commerce. The questions are what will that adaptation look like and how can the in-store experience be enhanced and integrated enough with the consumer’s digital experience to lure shoppers from their homes. The answer can be found in one word — technology. Retailers across myriad channels are already experimenting with augmented and virtual reality, robotics, chat bots, artificial intelligence, beacons and RFID tags, just to name a few of the dizzying array of new technologies swarming the ... Read More
  • Is the furniture industry headed for consolidation?

    Excuse the somewhat rhetorical headline as the furniture industry is already consolidating. Since 2011, the share of furniture store business done by the Top 100 stores has grown from 62% of sales to 80% in 2016, and much of that is coming within the top 50 of that group. Take Bob’s Furniture and Art Van as just two examples. Prior to Bain Capital’s acquisition of Bob’s, the everyday-low-price operator had stores in six states. Since Bain’s 2013 acquisition, the retailer has doubled the number of states in which it operates. Most recently Bob’s announced plans ... Read More