An 'iffy' situation
Carole Sloan, founding editor-in-chief -- Home Textiles Today, 6/24/2002 12:00:00 AM
Once again, the home textiles industry is being challenged by goings-on outside its domain.
The latest is the global situation.
As the marketplace literally jumped on the bandwagon that is Asian manufacturing, few have taken the time to figure out what could happen if …
And there is definitely more than one if. There's the security if, the pricing if and the labor strike if, among the top ifs to consider. And each of these ifs has an extraordinary impact on the planned flow of goods from across the big water to this country as the migration of furniture production in Asia increases incrementally.
Take the security if as an example. In recent weeks more attention has been paid to this issue. Containers, and there are some 11 million of them entering this country per year, have no reliable way of being inspected for their contents.
Who knows what could be tucked inside one of those neat quilts or sheet sets?
Just last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation allocated a grant to a number of U.S. ports to increase security. But that doesn't take into consideration the identification of potential security breeches.
Then there's the pricing if. This one includes a planned new surcharge for fuel costs and another miscellaneous charge for merchandise shipped. It's a container charge and doesn't involve the value of the contents inside.
And last but not least, there is the clear threat of a strike at West Coast ports — a situation that would create enormous havoc not just in home but across the consumer products landscape.
Keep in mind that we are approaching the beginning of the crucial holiday selling season and a lot of the stuff coming in beginning in July is key to the success of every retailer — especially so for general merchandise retailers.
With shippers having a call on what merchandise they will give priority to, higher-value containers chock-a-block with cashmere sweaters, leather pants and the like would certainly have preference over cheap sheets and towels.
The next months could well temper the growth of the bandwagon of home textiles manufacturing offshore.
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