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.
  • 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
  • What would double-digit import tariffs mean to the furniture business?

    The suggestion last week that the Trump administration might seek a 20% tariff on Mexican imports lasted only hours before an administration spokesman began walking it back. Instead, the President’s press secretary indicated a tariff was only one potential solution and intimated that 20% could actually be less, maybe even 5%. Despite that, there is increasing speculation within the industry that some form of import tax, tariff or other price adjustment is a real likelihood in the coming months. And not just on Mexico. For example, one such adjustment being bandied about — and admittedly there is little publicly available ... Read More
  • Optimism is great; a strategy is better

    Attendees at this week’s Las Vegas Market took a page from the U.S. Post Office, refusing to be deterred by opening day rains and swarming the Market Center in what IMC officials said was likely to be record numbers. And while it’s common to take such reports from show and market operators with a grain of salt, the classic eye test of elevator, car and bus traffic along with activity on the market floor itself suggested they just might be right. The prevailing mood was one of optimism among exhibitors, significant numbers of which came to market ... Read More
  • Measuring time frame for change in months, not years

    As you read this a new president has just taken office, bringing with him significantly different views than his predecessor. This is always true when a new administration takes office, particularly when it represents a shift from one political party to another. In this case, the change in direction is expected to be even greater as this President built his campaign around promises of dramatic change. It is always unclear following an inauguration how much of a candidate’s agenda is campaign rhetoric and how much will actually translate into public policy. What is clear at this point is that ... Read More
  • How someone doing everything ‘right’ can cost you a sale

    My wife and I purchased a new home recently and gradually have been buying new furniture. We’ve visited most of the local furniture stores and made a few purchases, some at a local brick and mortar and others via the Internet. On a recent trip to a local furniture store, we found a particular chair we liked in an outlet/clearance area of the store. (Full disclosure: I love a good value and am not averse to shopping closeouts on our preferred brands — and, yes, I shop by manufacturer brand as well as retailer) . Our goal was to find ... Read More