• Cecile Corral

Suppliers Sound Off on 2010 Holiday Outlooks

NEW YORK - If September comp store sales results among key retail chains coupled with a successful - even if only mildly - back-to-school season are any indication, holiday 2010 could shape up to be better than last year's and even somewhat modestly triumphant.
That is what most home textiles suppliers are hoping for their fourth quarter outlook when contacted by HTT.
Here is a sampling o what some companies are projecting or their own holiday sales and their general position on the coming season.

Alpha Home Fashions
Elaine Pankowicz, ceo and owner
"We feel very positive about the sale-ability and the price points of the holiday merchandise we have coming in this season. We feel that our holiday line we presented this year to retailers was our best ever, and we are very happy that the retailers were also enthusiastic about the styling and price points of this line. Being in the accessory portion of the home textiles business makes our products affordable for most consumers, even with the downturn of the economy. We are confident this will be a very strong holiday season."

Arlee Home Fashion
Arlee Home FashionArlee Home Fashion

Sean Frankel, svp, national sales manager
"Regarding our outlook for the fourth quarter, most of the retailers we work with believe the 2010 holiday season will build on the modest gains from 2009. "In preparing for the holiday season, retailers were more willing than in recent years to showcase product outside the traditional home furnishing norms. Based on our own business, seasonal merchandise, Black Friday and door buster promotions increased."

Bardwil Linens

Bardwil LinensBardwil Linens
Nancy Kristoff, president of sales and marketing
"Bardwil is cautiously optimistic, like everybody else. With our key brands o Lenox and Vera and Lenox Bath, we are hoping that the ourth quarter will be a success with Christmas sales stronger than 2009."

Brentwood Originals
Loren Sweet, president
"Back-to-school sales were strong and retailers were pleased. Based upon this start it appears that they are willing to lay in the initial inventory for fall [season]. Current order rates certainly support this. The final outcome rests on the customer showing up, but so far the cash register is ringing and I am optimistic for a strong fourth quarter. We are seeing strength not just at value price points, but across the range of our product and barring some macro economic development I believe we will see a strong finish to the year."

Elrene Home Fashions

Elrene Home FashionsElrene Home Fashions

Bryan Siegel, chairman and ceo
"This holiday seems to be off to a good start. Most retailers are reporting comp store increases year over year. We anticipate a positive holiday season. After the past few years of conservative introductions, we are finally seeing new innovation and exciting new product at the store level. This should translate into a reenergized consumer which will only result in positive sales growth.
     "We are excited about our more fashion forward items for holiday. We think the consumer will expand their decorating style from just the traditional looks of the past few years and buy into the new innovation and trend right merchandise being offered."

Home Source International
Keith Sorgeloos, president and ceo
"We've geared up our inventory to have a pretty decent fourth quarter, in particular November and December. We see increases for us could be anywhere between 3% and 5%.
     The prognosticators, we are hearing, expect a 2% to 3% for the season - that is everything I am reading about for the holiday forecast.
     "I happen to think it could be a little better than that, and the reason is that last year was so bad in the fourth quarter that this year we may be seeing a 3% to 5% increases, which won't even come close to 2007 and 2008 levels."

Lintex Linens/Cobra-Espalma
Kurt Hamburger, president and managing director
"I believe that those people looking optimistically to a big Christmas season may be disappointed. I think business is going to be flat. If you hold on to what you have or gained over last year or so, that would be a good thing as it is. I think if we achieve the same numbers we did last year, it would be the maximum that we could expect. I hope that that my negative philosophy is wrong, but I don't think so.
     "Look at the country's unemployment situation. The government figures don't tell us the whole story because they don't take into account the part time workers or the guy who was making $50,000 a year and is not making $7 an hour at McDonald's.
     "People will buy this holiday, but they'll buy the minimum or they'll buy even cheaper than in years gone by.
     "For example, our business is ahead with Lintex Bedding, table linens and bath. We are doing OK and we are ahead of last year. I have no complaints about it. But our margins are suffering a little because we have to fight harder for every order we get."

Maples Rugs
Wade Maples, co-owner
"Last year was a rebound year from 2008 and we think this year will be better than last year. We try and create a value presentation because the consumer is still looking for good value at the right price."

Mohawk Home
Jeffrey Seagle, dir. of marketing and product merchandising
"In comparison to years past, I am sure the vast majority of suppliers are somewhat cautious about the upcoming holiday season. Retailers remain very focused on inventory control and management. As a result, planning, procurement and manufacturing have had to exercise greater flexibility in all aspects of their daily operations. I am confident most suppliers have had to radically adjust to meet the changing needs of our retail partners and their customers. "Obviously, sales of our products to our retail partners are based upon and reflect the widely changing shifts in consumer confidence. With continued high unemployment nationwide and the shifting political landscape, any outlook for a significant uptick in increased consumer confidence will mostly likely occur after the first of the year. Until the consumer feels better about their financial health and there are more favorable labor market conditions across the board, we do not see any substantial rise in sales this holiday season. A significant uptick in consumer confidence within the next few months would certainly be cause for celebration."


Paula Paquette, vp, soft home
"The holiday outlook for our holiday motifs as well as our every day product looks to be strong. Early retailer sales on our seasonal products are showing high positive comps over last year's performance. "Retailers' product decisions made from market during the first quarter have been delivered and are showing great early high sell-throughs. "This has also made the response to our September market very successful. Retailers made their buying and assortment decisions quickly and responded to trends so the product can be delivered during late fourth quarter and to drive early first quarter sales."

Revere Mills International Group
John Vanden Berge, ceo

Revere Mills International GroupRevere Mills International Group
"My expectation is a minor increase to fl at for the holiday season. The bigger issue will be after the holidays - with depleted inventories, replenishment at retail will be at a much higher cost of goods due to the extreme increase of cotton prices. When and if that happens, how will it affect price points and values in the market place?"

Rekha Gadhvi, co-owner "Today, consumers are smart and aware of their options when they shop for their homes. They are always looking for newness, but the price has to be right. That is where we play our role - by giving new designs/fabrics/ embroidery which can be retailed from $16.99 to $19.99 and some higher-end product from $29.99 to 49.99.
     "I used to think a lot about being on trend in the beginning. But over the years, trends started becoming obsolete before they even hit the stores."

The John Ritzenthaler Co.
Elissa Vogt, vp of marketing
"We have found the fi rst half of 2010 to have had a modest improvement over the fi rst half of 2009. We expect that this trend will continue into the second half of 2010."

Town and Country Living
David Beyda, chairman "I believe that seasonal purchases will come late and closer to the actual holiday as the ultimate customer is playing it closer to the vest."

Cecile CorralCecile Corral | Senior Product Editor, Home Textiles Today

Cecile B. Corral has been a product editor with Home Textiles Today since late 2000. She covers the area and accent rug, kitchen textiles, table linens, beach towels, decorative bath and decorative pillow categories, as well as some retail subjects.

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