Upstairs Chains Trail Modest July Goals
By Jennifer Marks -- Home Textiles Today, 7/28/2008 12:00:00 AM
This week kicks off the summer and fall trade show roster, with Las Vegas Market to be followed next month by the New York International Gift Fair and, a few weeks later, the New York Home Fashions Market. For the lucky, the series will also include Maison & Objet in Paris as well as Decosit in Brussels.
Given how keenly retailers have been holding the line on inventories, supply chain issues loom as large as ever. One supplier who serves both the mass and upstairs independent channels reports that even high-end boutiques are being more scrupulous with their orders these days.
Newness will also be important. With home in the basement at most retail companies, merchants are going to be looking for the next great thing to drive sales. If the past two or three quarters have demonstrated nothing else, it's that bland, "safe" product doesn't ring a lot of registers.
Certainly, that next great thing will need to be sharply priced. Home textiles aren't much of a "must" when stacked against food and gas purchases. Even back-to-college could take a hit. There are plenty of kids who go off to college with sheets and towels plucked out of the family linen closet.
Last week, America's Research Group reported that nearly three in 10 (29.1%) U.S. parents plan to spend less this year on back-to-school purchases — 44.5% saying they have "less money," 28.6% saying they're cutting back due to "higher debt" (28.6%), and 22.7% citing "higher gas prices." Parents, ARG predicted, will buy only what their kids absolutely must have.
If back-to-school starts late (another finding from the study) and sales prove soft, buyers could be awfully skittish as they make the trade show rounds. For that reason, expect a new wave of licensing announcements as well as further expansion of eco-friendly offerings.
Everybody's in this mess together, and more than ever there is a need to find solutions to move a product segment that's been stuck for months. The stakes are high for suppliers and retailers alike as the total sales volume for the market isn't likely to expand anytime soon.
It will be interesting to see what the creative minds in the home textiles industry come up with over the next couple of months. Lord knows, the category needs a shot in the arm.
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