• Cecile Corral

Optimism a key element at Atlanta rug show

Atlanta — While retailer turnout is expected to be below January’s event, particularly among mid-tier department stores, those attending the bi-annual Atlanta International Area Rug market share a positive outlook for the category for fall and winter, and will be aggressively shopping the showrooms this week.

“We plan on closing up our inventories for the fall selling season at the rug market,” said Gary Cissell, director of flooring for Omaha-based Nebraska Furniture Mart. “We’re very excited about the fall selling season. With the (U.S. presidential) election coming up, we feel a sense of optimism in the air among consumers.”

Specialty retailer The Great Indoors, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., will be looking for merchandise to fit its newly expanded rug offerings with more promotional buys and added scatter sizes, said Angela Chu, area rug buyer.

“We’re expecting huge increases in rug sales during the fall and winter months,” Chu explained. “We’re planning on offering many promotions and broadening our value offerings. We’ll have in place for the end of this year and 2005 great promotional programs. Our customers now have more disposable income and we need to tap into that — it’s just a matter of positioning assortment to fit their needs.”

In terms of style, Chu said she will be looking for more contemporary and transitional looks, “which is where we see business turning.”

Home Shopping Network’s soft lines buyer, Natalie Doig, sees similar buying trends among her customers. But she will also have an eye out for traditional looks that have been updated with more fashion colorways, as well as for scatter rugs and shaped rugs — all at higher price brackets than the opening price points the television-based retailer has normally tagged on its wool rug offerings.

“Our rug business is up from last year but plays an equal percentage as last year to the overall soft home business,” Doig said. “Most of the balance of this year has been planned out, but I will be shopping aggressively for 2005 for we see a huge opportunity for rugs. We are confident that if business continues as it has we will have a great fall and winter. Typically, we see a spike in sales in September, October and November in this category, and we plan on maximizing it.”

With rugs making strides at Dallas-based Tuesday Morning, the chain said it will be at the market “shopping for the same thing we always look for — value. We don’t shop price point because what we sell is value,” said Bill Kendall, vice president of the textiles and rugs division. “This market will be no different for us.”

Expecting a 6 percent hike in sales for year-end, Jerry Noack, director of stores (43 units) for Macy’s Home Store will be looking for casual lifestyle looks.

“We want to expand our casual lifestyle with more of a contemporary to monochromatic type look and softer shades,” he said. “We are selling a ton of casual lifestyle rugs and the price points are pretty moderate — $800 to $1,500 for an 8-by-11. Right now we’re having a very good rug season, and we think it will continue.”

Added Keith Arlinghaus, senior buyer at Macy’s Home Store, “It seems the business has shown signs of recovery in the last few months or so, and we’re looking aggressively and encouraged for the fall selling season.”

For a rundown of manufacturers' product introductions at the Atlanta International Rug market, see the July 12, 2004, edition of Home Textiles Today.

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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