HIGH POINT — Despite anticipated low attendance, strong demand for goods this fall led to one of the more aggressive order-writing markets in the case goods realm at the October High Point Market.
While many resources in the wood category reported they had only 25% to 30% of normal attendance, most said they were pleased with market overall.
For one, they were glad to have a market at all, and secondly, it gave them a chance to not only show new goods planned as far back as April, but also deliver on inline goods available for immediate shipment.
“This time everyone was writing; that was the good thing about it,” said Bill Dominguez, vice president, research, development and international operations at New Classic Furniture. “Orders are heavier than normal. We knew customers wanted to come to market for goods that are inline and in production.”
Sensing this demand early on, the company and its key sales execs decided to pull the trigger in June on new product originally developed for the spring market.
“We ordered it in June, and it is shipping now,” Dominguez said of new bedroom, dining and occasional product. “We worked ahead of time.”
Reps then secured orders from customers who, until market, had only seen photos and video of the new items. Thus, many customers came in the showroom asking to see what they had already ordered.
The new groups included formal dining added to its Monique collection, which hits retail in December and new formal dining added to its Maximus collection, which has begun shipping and is expected to hit retail in early February. Both feature table and four chair dining sets retailing around $999.
The company also preordered several new standalone dining sets as well as other new bedroom and dining collections that are now shipping and expected to hit retail soon.
‘Can you ship now?’
Others agreed that the biggest demand was for goods that can ship as soon as possible.
“’What can you ship me now?’ is typically the No. 1 question,” said Steve York, president of case goods importer FD Home, adding that the question is typically followed by what are your top five groups and where are you doing your volume. “Then they look for opportunities out of the top five. That gives dealers an opportunity to move forward on something with a track record.”
New product also drove business at New Classic, FD Home and other resources as people are looking ahead to next spring to replenish their floors.
“People are very interested in what’s available now, but people also are making plans for new product,” said Dave MacIntosh, chief administrative officer at accent, entertainment and dining furniture resource Coast To Coast. “They have to plan ahead.”
The company had about 120 new pieces for October, spread across dining, credenzas and storage units including bookcases and cabinets. MacIntosh said these items will ship by December, which likely will put them on retail floors sometime by late January or early February.
“There is no doubt this was a strong order-writing market,” he said.
The same was true for Coaster, which had a mix of new and inline goods on the floor across all wood categories.
The challenge for some as many factories are still playing catch up after business came to a nearly complete halt this past spring, will be to have new goods go into production before March or April. That means some new product might not make it to retail floors in time for Memorial Day.
“People are still trying to find in-stock, available merchandise,” said Don Deeds, executive vice president, sales and marketing, noting that dealers are more understanding about supply chain issues than they have been in the past as “they keep hearing it everywhere. Everyone is having problems.”
He added that many dealers also saw much of Coaster’s new goods virtually as the company did not show at the summer Las Vegas Market. Many came in to the High Point showroom to see those items in person.
Of market, he said, the company was set up as appointment-only for the first time ever. Yet most everyone got in, as some dealers that hadn’t set an appointment before market were able to set an appointment at the door.
“We didn’t have an expectation,” he said of overall attendance. “And because we didn’t have an expectation, we weren’t disappointed.”
Other highlights this market were new bedroom and dining collections and additions at A-America, A.R.T. Furniture, AICO, Lexington Home Brands, Magnussen Home, Napa, Sunpan, Jofran, DesignWorks, Universal Furniture, Bernhardt, Hooker, Intercon, Palmetto Home, Austin Group, Aspenhome, Bassett, Pulaski, SLF, Riverside, American Drew, Kincaid and.
No slowdown at retail
“Demand is coming from all directions,” said Jeff Young, CEO of A.R.T. Furniture, of customers ranging from large retailers to made-to-order business from designers.
The company had plenty of new bedroom and dining collections, some of which had been shown at the Premarket and some of which are not only in production, but also have had multiple cuttings.
Young estimated that at least 60% of the demand was for inline goods that can be shipped quickly, while the remainder was for new merchandise. “There is no indication of any slowdown at retail, which is good,” he said.
In addition to new glam bedroom and dining collections, Ashley Furniture showcased a few hundred new pieces in RTA, including youth beds and companion case pieces.
Other categories such as home entertainment, occasional, bedroom and dining furniture also contributed to the mix. These categories were arranged mostly in small apartment vignettes showing how many customers for the line live today.
Ashley CEO Todd Wanek noted that furniture stores in general “need to focus on what that customer wants,” adding that the line was developed by a talented team of young designers starting families themselves. “We are really excited about what they have put into it, and we think it’s relevant to that segment.”
Ashley also tapped into other major consumers segment this market — the professional and student working and learning from home — with more than two dozen smaller scale desks retailing from $99 to $249. The selection included desks with laminate and melamine work surfaces, as well as some with black glass tops and wood or metal frames.
Other resources expanding their lines with new and/or expanded home office lines included Hooker Furniture, Lifestyle Enterprise, A-America, Bernhardt, Universal Furniture, Intercon, Jofran, Hekman, Martin Furniture, Sligh Furniture, Riverside and Parker House.
Many were smaller scale offerings that featured writing and student desks. Lifestyle’s assortment for example, include seven new desks and chair sets, mostly featuring 48-inch work surfaces that retail from $199 to $299.
Meanwhile, other assorts at traditional resources such as Hooker, Riverside, Hekman, Martin and Sligh, offered full office suites with a mix of products ranging from writing desks and half-ped desks to larger junior executive and executive desks with companion storage pieces.
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