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Monthly Issue

From Home Furnishing Business

Editors Letter: What a Rollercoaster Ride!

by Bob George,

What began as a drop in consumer expenditure for furniture (-4.2%) in March quickly accelerated in April (-22.8%), followed by a quick reversal in May (1.1%), which continued in June. Needless to say, traditional furniture retailers are not accustomed to these violent swings in demand.

Some retailers were not able to react to these extremes of having to embrace VIRTUAL SELLING with appointments to sidestep unclear orders to close non-essential retailing. Others faced specifi c orders to remain closed, while “big box” retailers remained open with essentials status, continuing to sell furniture. And of course, e-commerce continued to increase their sales by over 25% during this period of time. While furniture retailers enjoyed a sugar high in May and into June, the fact is that the retailers who seized the opportunity are back and close to even for the year. In other words, the rollercoaster car has returned to the top.

Now, as of this writing, the industry is waiting at the top of the rollercoaster. With the increased coronavirus infection rate, will we repeat the cycle and drop again? It is for certain that only the nimble will survive this unknown.

And what about the business model for furniture retailing? With the exception of limited digital, there has been litt le advertising dollars spent. Also, much of these sales have been accomplished with reduced staff . What are the new ratios to sell? This will be explored in our upcoming September/ October issue featuring Performance Metrics.

For more detail in consumer expenditure, see the Statistically Speaking article on page 46 in this issue.

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