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From Home Furnishing Business

The Reality behind the Myth

By Sheila Long O'Mara

Sometimes a myth is just a myth—a widely held but false belief or idea. Folks understand

it as such, and so it is. Other times, that long-held belief becomes so intertwined in a culture, community or business that it becomes a group’s reality. Over the last 20 years I’ve spent covering the furniture industry, there’s always been a story on the summer slump or the summer doldrums. The story is typically published after the Memorial Day sales have wrapped up. Retailers and vendors alike have always espoused the lack of furniture sales during the summer and more often than not attributed it to vacation season, kids being out of school and other activities

(and expenses) taking over consumers’ disposable income. The story line has become so intertwined into our vernacular that we’ve come to expect the drop in business. It’s part of who, we as an industry, have become. Remember, a big chunk of factories shutter during the first and sometimes the second weeks of July to account for the “slump”. That’s been going on forever, and this summer as it rolls in quickly, isn’t likely to be much different.   

Instead of setting out at the end of May to encourage and entice consumers to come in and redecorate, we’ve taken to treading water until the big fall selling season returns just in time for the holidays. Everyone knows that’s when everyone is entertaining and wants to prep their homes for the influx of family and friends.

Could it be that we’ve created the summer slump myth to soothe our fears? Perhaps, it has become an easy fall back. Our sales are off, but oh wait, look at the calendar, it’s July. Now it makes sense. Seem a little silly and thin? Hmmmmm, given that the impending slump has become our perceived reality, let’s take a look at the statistics behind the curtain. Figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce tracking furniture store sales month to month tell a different story than the one the furniture industry has been groomed to believe.

Take into consideration that in an eight-year period between 2005and 2013, the month to-month change in furniture sales is barely enough to register. It’s a pretty steady line graph, and surprise, in the months of June, July and August sales don’t fall into the pit of despair. Instead, sales for those months over the eight-year span actually creep up. If there’s a slump to be seen, it shows up in the month of April (blame it on Market), but even that stumble shouldn’t be too noticeable.

What does this non-myth mean for you? Well, if you’re seeing a significant drop in your summer sales, perhaps you need to look elsewhere for the cause. Maybe your promotions and advertising and marketing plans need an overhaul. Give her a reason to come shop your store. Trust me, she’s looking for something to do other than referee the latest argument over whose turn it is on the computer. The summer myth has been debunked, so now is the time to develop a new line. The summer slump story isn’t going to cut it anymore. Get ready, and take advantage of this time to arm your arsenal with smart, creative, effective messaging to pull the consumer into your store.



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