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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.
  • 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
  • What can Tylenol teach the furniture industry?

    Social media was abuzz last week with a dramatic video of a two-year-old rescuing his twin brother from beneath a toppled dresser - one the pair had been climbing when it tipped. Video of the accident drew more than 12 million views on YouTube, nearly 4,000 shares and 60,000 views on Facebook. It has once again catapulted the tipping issue to the forefront of consumer consciousness and will almost certainly reinvigorate the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s pursuit of furniture design changes to address the issue. Speaking to Furniture Today for an upcoming story regarding the outlook for 2017 ... Read More
  • 5 resolutions for the furniture industry in 2017

    It's the start of a new year, which is always a good time set goals for the coming year. To help jump start that effort, here are a few resolutions that, even if you only keep some, could help your business this year and beyond. 1. Pick up the paceThe Internet has forever raised consumer expectations when it comes to delivery time. Anything furniture retailers and manufacturers can do to shorten lead times and get product into the consumer’s home more quickly will increase satisfaction and build repeat purchases. 2. Scale to customizeConsumers increasingly see their ... Read More
  • 3 shifts to prepare for in 2017

    As 2016 comes to a close you can hear the furniture industry breathe a collective sigh of relief that the presidential election is in the rear view mirror. Having just endured a roller coaster year culminating in a modest 2.7% increase, according to Furniture Today estimates, there is a sense that everything will return to normal now that the election is over. The real question however is, what is normal? Certainly the 3.9% the industry grew in 2015 is better than the year just past. But as recently as 2014, industry growth was pegged at just 2%, and ... Read More
  • Opening the door to new forecasting opportunities

    We live in an age of data. More information is available about consumer purchase behavior than at any time in human history, and sifting through to determine which data points are actionable or so much chaff can be a Sisyphean task. Yet when it comes specifically to furniture, the availability of actionable data, particularly around the ability to forecast upcoming demand, can be more limited. There is, for example, an anecdotal presumption that housing trends are linked to furniture sales. Rising housing starts and positive household formation numbers are typically viewed as good news, while a downturn in the housing ... Read More
  • A gentle lesson in leadership

    As I sit here writing this, the Furniture Today Leadership Conference has just concluded. The focus of the conference this year was transformative change and leading organizations through it. Day one was packed with speakers describing the increasing pace of change the industry confronts and offering a plethora of strategies to confront it. Day two concluded with three bright, passionate and knowledgeable future leaders laying out a vision for tomorrow that cannot help but make one optimistic about the industry’s future. We will have complete coverage in next week’s paper. But sometimes the most profound learning takes place ... Read More