Value is Still the Key
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 10/20/2008 12:00:00 AM
As folks get ready to go to yet another of the marathon array of markets that peoples in the home textiles world are increasingly becoming accustomed to, this round offers a menu of unique challenges probably never seen before.
The interesting, and curious thing, is that there is little of the "Chicken Little, the sky is falling" syndrome. There is apparently no one willing to guess as to when all this negative stuff will level off — but few are tearing their hankies to shreds, if you read the comments from exhibitors here in High Point, N.C. this week.
Before the "really big bust" took place in September, there was a fair amount of positive sentiment coming out of both the Las Vegas summer show and the August International Gift Show in New York.
More than the devastation caused by the mortgage crisis, the awesome credit crunch being applied to retailers and suppliers alike is certain to take a significant toll. We are already hearing some horror stories about credit — as customers push back payment dates a mere couple of days, and banks put the pressure on suppliers to ante up in precisely the previously allocated time.
That crunch backs up to the supplier's supplier, to the basic supplier, to the credit explosion.
In contrast, as for product costs, there have been a few — but critical downturns. Raw materials, especially those primarily based in petroleum, have dipped as a result of lower oil prices. The lower oil prices also have impacted shipping costs — albeit perhaps for a modest period of time.
Survey after survey across the country evaluating consumers' attitudes about purchases for themselves and their homes is revealing no single or major trend.
But several things are evident. Value is a key consideration. This does not mean cheap or low quality but priced right for style, function and quality. Appeal to aesthetics and living at home are increasingly important — and most of all, recent studies say that retailer involvement with customers is of growing stature in making a sale.
The folks in High Point this week obviously will be challenged by their retailers to participate in this plan.
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