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From Home Furnishing Business

Build It and They Will Come

Bob George,


That belief has sustained manufacturers and retailers for decades. Now for furniture store owners, confidence is failing with each year’s decline in traffic.

Furniture Stores, for the most part, merchandise the furniture consumer durables leaving the non-durables, such as top of bed and window coverings, to the Home Furnishings Stores. The consumer durables account for 39% of the total furnishing sales, a $305 billion market.

This was not always the case with furniture stores merchandising a full range of products for the home. However, over the years product categories have been abandoned as the “category killers” pursued a product with low service,  low prices and sometimes quality. How could a furniture store compete with Bed Bath and Beyond?

Retailing has always been a situation of opportunity. The consumer doesn’t always make a destination purchase, but discovers something she cannot live without in the process of “shopping” commonly referred to as aimless wandering.

 With the time strapped consumer, the concept of retail therapy has all but disappeared with Generation X and younger Baby Boomers. It is well documented that Millennials hate to shop except digitally. What does this mean to the small independent furniture store that presents product in a pleasant environment stocked with knowledgeable sales staff? It means “waiting for them to come.”

The quandary that the industry has is the growth of the home furnishing industry in total (8.1%) versus the growth of furniture stores (1.5%) in 2017. While home furnishing stores are increasing their share of furniture sold, furniture stores are not increasing or even participating in the sales of the non-durable product categories. While furniture and bedding has enjoyed a 21.8% increase over the last 5 years, many of the non-durable categories have achieved more growth.

 It may not be just the opportunity to sell additional product categories but the opportunity for exposing the furniture product. The commitment to shop for new bed linen or even a rug is much less than the commitment to redecorate your home. The question is, how many consumers buy furniture while in the process of shopping for bed linens?

 Many things can happen to the consumer on the way to redecorating their home. One of these may be discovering that great piece while shopping for something else in a Home Furnishings Store.

Do we need another reason(s) for consumers to visit other stores?

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