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Onward & Upward: Home Furnishings Sales Should Keep Ticking up in 2015

By: Powell Slaughter

Don’t expect record-breaking growth overall in 2015 for home furnishings, but sales at least should pick up a percentage point or more over the current year.

FurnitureCore, the research arm of Impact Consulting Services, forecasts $90.6 billion next year in sales of furniture and bedding, up 3.7 percent over 2014 full-year projections. That estimate predicts 3.6 percent growth for furniture and 4.4 percent from bedding following FurnitureCore’s projections of 2.6 percent and 3.9 percent growth, respectively, for the categories this year.

Furniture sales ticked up a notch in 2014 despite one of the nation’s most severe winters on record this year impacting a lot of potential first-quarter business.

“People are going to be surprised we got 2.6 percent this year because of the terrible weather in the first quarter,” said Impact Consulting CEO Bob George. “Basically, we’re treading water. The economics just aren’t there. The middle price-point customer has not returned to buying furniture. They’re looking at college tuitions, food prices. The middle class is getting squeezed right now.”

George recalled talking to a reporter who asked him why a value-priced retailer such as Bob’s Discount Furniture is locating stores near affluent neighborhoods.

“People are considering lower price points,” he said. “It’s part of the winnowing down of expectations for the middle class, how they view their lot in life, and that’s a shame.”

Consumer confidence has historically been one of the top five indicators for home furnish- ings sales. However, this year it lost some of its cachet and impact on furniture.

Toward the end of last year, consumer confidence was expected to jump from the 75-point index in 2013 to a more vibrant 82-point mark. Instead it leaped to a 95-point reading, but didn’t push industry sales significantly.

“The variable that typically gives us a lift is consumer confidence,” George said. “It’s the highest it’s been in seven years, but it didn’t really do anything for furniture this year. Housing starts and home sales didn’t meet last year’s forecast, but had little impact on 2014 sales, but the usual indicators aren’t really impacting us either way.”

Industry analyst Jerry Epperson, director at Mann Armistead & Epperson, Richmond, Va., is more optimistic about 2015.

“I think (FurnitureCore’s forecast) is a little low,” he said. “If we hadn’t had the bad winter, 2014 would have seen 4.3 or 4.4 percent growth. As long as we don’t have a really bad winter, we’ll have a better first quarter, which will be a boost for the rest of the year. I think we’ll do between 4 and 5 percent.”

Mann Armistead & Epperson is still working on its forecast for the coming year—it had just received the University of Michigan economic forecast, which factors into its 2015 outlook for home furnishings, when we talked with Epperson.


The outlook for next year is good enough for some pretty sharp home furnishings retailers to make some significant moves. Ethan Allen, for exam- ple, is gearing up for the 2015 in a big way—it’s in the process of changing out 70 percent of its prod- uct offerings, according to Chairman and CEO Farooq Kathwari.

“We’ve been hiring people, adding manage- ment and growing internally,” he said.

Kathwari believes there’s no one thing that would make or break the furniture retail sector next year. Even if bad news pops up, consumers hear so much that’s negative that external factors don’t matter as much as they once did.

“We’re confident about next year because our business is vertically integrated,” Kathwari said. “We’re changing our product line dramatically, and we’re bringing more manufacturing to North America, so we have more control.”

Furnitureland South is gearing up for in- creased business expectations in the coming year, opening its third new gallery of the year in November—the 62,000-square-foot “Ground Floor.” Ground Floor gathers mid-price furniture in a single area, fully outfitted with accessories, wall décor and carpeting.

The Jamestown, N.C., retailer is still just half- way through a $4 million renovation plan for its 1 million-plus square feet of showroom space.

Why all the activity now?

“We very much believe in the showroom experience, so we partnered with our vendors to freshen up the world’s largest furniture store,” said Jess Harris, CEO.  “We have about 25 new manufactur- er galleries underway or in the works.”

Those will have “storefronts” on a new 25-foot- wide corridor connecting the store’s north and   south atriums that Harris called a “street of dreams.”

Furnitureland South also is revamping its Web site, which it’s using to set shoppers up for a more productive, efficient experience within the vast store.

“Customers are going online first, looking for inspiration and the best place to shop,” Harris said. “The No. 1 question people ask when they call in after going online is ‘Can I see this item, can I sit on it, and check the quality’ in the store.

“We differentiate ourselves from everyone else online with the size of our showroom,” he said. “You can come in and see exactly what you were looking at online. Our strategy is to inspire people online, and then to engage them with our design consultants—before they come to the store.”

To that end, Furnitureland South created video biographies for every design consultant. Shoppers can view those on the Web site to see who they’d like to work with when they come to the store. That way, the consultants can start working on a game plan to help the customer navigate and make the most of a visit to the huge showroom.

“There’s a lot of work that can be done before you come to the store,” Harris said.

Part of Furnitureland South’s renovations includes a redesign of the front entrance, an- chored by Lexington Home Brands, the popular Tommy Bahama line in particular. A video wall will prep arriving customers for what they’re in for going through the store, the size of which can be overwhelming to the first-time shopper.

“We stress that we have to help you with the experience,” Harris said. “The role of our design consultants is to help you through the entire pro- cess. It saves time, energy and helps guide you to the best values. Ultimately, it can save people money.”

And in Ohio, South Zanesville -based Coconis Furniture opened its third location in Heath, Ohio, 20 miles east of Columbus. The new store is in a high-traffic area between the communities of Newark and Heath.

Connie Post Cos. Designed the interior and exterior of the new Coconis Furniture and Mattress First store.

The Heath showroom has 25,000 square feet, and an additional 8,000 feet of showroom and clearance center will be added to the rear of the store. Those additions should be completed early next year.

Two pre-existing buildings behind the new store will be used for warehousing and storage. A separate entrance to the store will allow customers to enter the Mattress First area of the store (See Sidebar, “Building on Bedding).

“We project with the new Heath store open in 2015 we will do $15 (million) to 17 million total for all three stores,” said President Randy Coconis. “That would be an increase of approximately 35

percent to 40 percent over 2014.”


Coconis Furniture is a good example of the in- creasingly local viability of markets for home furnishings retailers—Ohio is home to five of the 10 markets with FurnitureCore’s slowest project- ed growth in furniture sales next year, based on household growth. And here’s Coconis expecting a big jump in 2015 business.

“We are situated in a more rural part of Ohio that doesn’t seem to follow the ups and downs of the larger cities in Ohio,” Coconis said. “Also the Utica shale oil and gas surge has helped so many in our area.”

That has helped lower unemployment in southeastern Ohio.

“We have also seen some nice business come from the oil and gas industry as workers move into our area,” Coconis said. “They say it’s here for at least the next 20 years.”

George said furniture retailers shouldn’t worry too much about what’s happening every- where else: “It’s that every market is local.”

He pointed to the Dallas market, where Ne- braska Furniture Mart is set to open a huge new store early next year. The marketing accompany- ing that event will increase furniture’s mind share among consumers, but stores currently serving the market need to keep their dukes up.

“That will increase sales, but the people al- ready there will lose some,” George said. “When a larger regional chain invades a market, it doesn’t destroy a retailer, but it’s like getting pecked to death by ducks.”

That said, the hottest markets for the next five years, according to FurnitureCore are Midland, Texas (13.4 percent growth); Austin-Round Rock, Texas (11.8 percent); Charleston-North Charles- ton, S.C. (9.2 percent); and San Antonio-New Braunfels and Dallas-Plano-Irving, each with projected 9 percent growth.

No wonder Nebraska Furniture Mart wants a foot in the door in Texas.

On the flip side, the metropolitan regions with the slowest growth potential for home furnish- ings, again, based on projected household forma- tions in the next five years are: Detroit-Dear- born-Livonia, Mi. (down 1.8 percent); Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio (down 1.4 percent); Cleveland-Elyria and Toledo, Ohio (down 0.3 percent each); and Akron, Ohio (flat).


So what could make or break sales for home furnishings retailers in 2015? The good news about a

seemingly constant barrage of bad news is that consumers appear to be getting a bit numb.

“I think we’ve become oblivious to the shenanigans in Washington,” George said. “We were just in this quagmire where we talked about sending troops to Syria—and the stock market doesn’t go down. In a 24-hour news cycle, one side will say it’s bad, and one side will say it’s good.”

Retailers shouldn’t bother themselves too much about things out of their control. Take the horrid winter this year.

“The sales opportunity you lost (from weather) in the first quarter didn’t go away,” George noted. “I don’t see anything outside the industry that will make a really big impact either way.”

Epperson said a make-or-break in 2015 relates to home furnishings retailers’ supply chain.

“If we have a longshoremen’s strike, that could impact the availability of product,” he said. “That hasn’t been a problem lately, but that could cause shortages and cause us to lose significant business.”

Consumer attitudes also are subject to measures such as gasoline prices, and that’s been nothing but good coming into the end of the year.

“I bought gas this past weekend at $2.41 a gallon,” Epperson said. “It’s been a pleasant experience for everybody, and it added to the outlook for the holiday season and retail in general.”

Another factor affecting product flow is transport stateside.

“There’s a shortage of trucks and truckers, so that’s a little bit of a problem,” Epperson said, adding that other factors are looking good.

“Transportation costs are going down, and we aren’t worried about inflation right now,” he said. “Housing figures are up, and there are 2.5 million more people employed than there were a year ago.”

Retailers need to look at where they operate, and find the opportunities in the consumer base they serve.

“We aren’t so much bullish, we just see oppor- tunities out there with an improved economy,” said Harris at Furnitureland South. “We see a lot of people who haven’t invested in their homes in several years, and we think they want to create a better backdrop for living their lives.







What Sells: Leather Uncovered

By Sheila Long O’Mara

Leather upholstery may just be one of the most technical categories on a retailer’s floor.

The varying grades of leather, as well as the growth in bonded product, leave consumers seeking the comfort and luxury of fine leather in a maze of confusion. The Internet — where most consumers start the shopping experience — is filled with information, and sometimes misinformation, on the ins and outs of buying leather upholstery.  All of which require retail sales associates be given category specific training, have in-depth product knowledge and the dexterity to cut through any uncertainty consumers may have regarding leather upholstery.

A recent survey by Furniturecore of 535 consumers who had bought upholstery in the last 12 months showed that 71.3 percent of them embarked on their shopping journey by exploring online. Not only can consumers uncover styles and specific products, but the category gets extensive attention on what consumers should look for and consider when buying leather.

Shopping for leather upholstery tends to be a lengthy process. Nearly 33 percent of the consumers surveyed shopped between 2 weeks and a month before making their purchase. That’s significantly more than the 27 percent of consumers in the market for fabric-covered upholstery who shopped for that length of time. Another 18 percent of our surveyed consumers shopped between one and three months prior to buying.

Despite their diligence in uncovering the perfect leather upholstery, shopping for the category was not without its challenges. It seems the consumers surveyed wanted a larger selection of wares. Nearly 38 percent (37.8 percent) said the available selection of leather upholstery was too small.

Another sticking point — price.

While the industry understands the nuanced craftsmanship and detail required for top-quality leather upholstery, consumers aren’t quite as well versed in the matter. About 32 percent (32.1 percent) said prices of leather upholstery were higher than they expected.

When buying, the consumer pool was motivated by a number of things. On a scale of one to six with one being the most important and six being the least, product quality was at the top with a ranking of 2.8. Quality was followed closely by product design with a 3.1 ranking. Brand or manufacturer reputation was third with a 3.5 ranking.

No big surprise that most consumers were shopping for leather upholstery for their living rooms or family rooms. In fact, 81.5 percent — 47.3 percent for living room and 34.2 percent for family room — of them specified one of those two rooms at the location for their recent purchase.

 Traditional and contemporary designs rule the roost when it comes to leather upholstery. Who can blame them? A rich, button tufted, nail-head trim sofa or a clean, sweeping sectional both add a certain je ne sais quoi to a room. The two style genres, at 38.3 percent and 36.2 percent, respectively, carry the bulk of our consumer group’s affinity. Country/rustic leather designs fell a distant third at 15.8 percent.

When it comes to specifics and drilling down a bit more in the style category, it seems consumers prefer overstuffed, deep seating to sleeker, tight-back designs in leather upholstery. In fact, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed prefer the overstuffed designs.

Good news on the willing-to-wait front. While today’s consumers tend to prefer instant gratification on nearly everything they purchase, about 47 percent of those surveyed indicate a willingness to wait four to eight weeks for a custom-ordered leather sofa. Another 43 percent said they would wait two to four weeks for such.


Bedding Surprises: Innovations in Bedding from Las Vegas Market

Las Vegas Furniture Market’s summer edition doesn’t attract the buyer traffic of the winter show, but as a major bedding venue, vendors in the category there didn’t skimp when it came to offering customers something new.

Following is a run-down on introductions and line enhancements among bedding and related exhibitors at the July show.

Customatic Adjustable Bedz unveiled a new patent-pending mattress retainer system, Custom Clips.


The system aims to offer an easier, faster and more stylish alternative to the standard U-shaped retainer bar used on most adjustable bed bases


The Custom Clips system, which includes corner “L-shaped” brackets, side brackets, head brackets and foot brackets, is designed to reduce set-up time for delivery handlers, eliminate the need for tools and, most importantly, create a cradle for the mattress allowing it to contour to the bed base as it adjusts.


Like most Customatic Bedz products, the system is completely customizable and available in a variety of designs, colors and shapes, including “n-shaped”, semi-circle and a number of other options.


“We saw an opportunity to provide a solution to the clumsy and obtrusive standard brackets,” said Customatic Adjustable Bedz Partner Phil Sherman. “Our advanced system provides superior mattress retention that assists in helping maintain position when adjusting the base. We believe it is a revolutionary design that will dramatically change the way adjustable bases are presented in the future.”


Customatic also had private showings of its new, patent-pending Edge-to-Edge Lumbar feature, created to avoid the “tipping effect” in adjustable bed bases with lumbar-support designs.


Edge-to-Edge spans the width of the whole mattress, providing lumbar support across the entire sleep surface.



Buyers visiting Dormeo saw the vendor’s first “U.P.S.-able” foundation.


Designed to offer a product made with top-of-the-line materials, yet lighter and more durable than its standard base, the new foundation can be assembled and reassembled easily from the showroom floor to the customer’s bedroom. Potential benefits include cost-savings and secure, convenient and direct delivery.


Dormeo dealers wanted an easier way to ship bases.  Before the new foundation, the only option was a traditional model that required “white glove” delivery to set-up.  The new model’s lightweight, sleek design is aimed at online retailers, big box stores and stores that want to display a foundation for carry-away or “curbside” shipment.


The new can fit into a 14-by-14-by-81-inch box and features a sleek black and grey pattern, designed to match the company’s contemporary style.


“The convenience of a shippable product will be a great selling point for our customers, allowing them to better close the deal at the end of the sale and can increase the sales ticket as well as an added bonus,” said Jon Stowe, North American CEO.


Suggested retail price for the foundation starts $500.



Foam products producer FXI introduced what it called the specialty sleep industry’s first system to rank temperature regulation in foam products.


The Temperature Regulation Factor (TRF) will be used to communicate the performance level of each of the company’s foam offerings in its new TRF product lineup.


The TRF system consists of three ranking levels for foam products: TRF 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0. Products that fall in the TRF 2.0 range have open-cell foam with high levels of airflow for good temperature management, such as FXI’s Aerus and MemGel Swirl products. At the TRF 3.0 level, foam offerings are open-cell, have high airflow and include added heat dissipation properties, like FXI’s Gel-Trix. Products at the top-level TRF 4.0 category have extreme open-cell foam, providing the highest level of airflow of any foam product available on the market, as well as the added benefits of heat and moisture dissipation, encompassing the Maxperm, SilkLux, Aerus Max and MemGel Max offerings.


“Airflow and breathability has always been at the forefront of the discussion about foam products,” said FXI Chief Marketing Officer Diane Adams. “ … We developed a full product portfolio of temperature-regulating foams based on a consumer need—the need to sleep more comfortably throughout the night.”




The series includes three models—Xplore, Navigate and Grand—all featuring an upholstered, deck-on-deck design, and incorporating the latest technologies such zero-gravity positioning, wireless remotes, and USB ports. Retails start at $699 in queen.


The top model in the collection, the Grand, features a head-up/foot-up option with neck tilt capabilities.  Its “Sleep Enhancement” technology provides Total Body Vibration, which helps lull a person to sleep and offers numerous health benefits. The base includes four USB ports, two on each side that act as a charging station for mobile devices.  Other features include zero-gravity and anti-snore positioning, programmable memory settings, wireless remote with a flashlight, LED under-bed lighting and a wall hugging design that allows the body’s position to stay in place even if the base is moving.


“Through the years, we have seen the adjustable base category grow from being associated with hospital beds to becoming a true lifestyle product that consumers are embracing and demanding from our retailers,” said Vice President of National Sales Dan Baker. “With the addition of our Comfort Base Lifestyle Series, we can now offer our customers six different adjustable base options at all price points to satisfy their customer’s needs.”




E.S. Kluft updated its Aireloom Synchronized Support Collection with luxurious new ticking and border design featuring a dove gray Chinoiserie medallion; standard foundation or adjustable base option; and the addition of more natural Talalay Latex and plush memory foam in its comfort layers.


The six SKU line-up still features the same quality vertical and horizontal  stitched side panels, outer tufting, materials and artisan handiwork for which Aireloom is known. Each model is hand-tufted and constructed using the highest quality organic cotton, Belgian damask fabric, silk, Joma wool, individually wrapped nested coils, and the company’s patented open-chamber design for maximum comfort and conformability; and Aireloom’s eight-way hand tied box springs. 


“We wanted to up-the-ante and challenge ourselves to make (Synchronized Support) even more luxurious and comfortable than it was before,” said E.S. Kluft & Company President and CEO Earl Kluft.


The Synchronized Support Collection retails for $5,000 to $12,000.





Bed frame manufacturer Mantua introduced what it said is the industry’s first steel bed frame that a consumer can customize with multiple color, fabric and leg styles.


Mantua’s Express Yourself series, which includes the Express Yourself Frame and the Express Yourself Valance, features interchangeable inserts on the outer sides of the bed frame. The Express Yourself Frame is available with either wood or steel legs. The Express Yourself Valance, available in either contemporary or traditional styles, features frame inserts that can be individually purchased in 16 color options including black, white, off-white, chocolate brown, light blue and green, and wood grain and fabric-look styles.


Customized Point-of-Purchase designs are also available so a retailer or mattress manufacturer can print their logo or tag line on the bed frame.


“With our Express Yourself series, there is no longer a need to ‘hide’ the bed frame under a bed skirt,” said Mantua President David Jaffe. “The possibilities are also endless for retailers who can use the series to differentiate mattresses on their floors—whether it’s a green valance for organic bedding, a light blue valance to indicate latex, or another color to highlight a sale or promotion on particular models.”


The complete Express Yourself series retails for $149, with the individual valances available to purchase for $59 and the frames starting at $89



In addition to introducing new CEO Kurt Ling, Organic Mattresses Inc., launched five new organic mattress toppers.


The extension adds five new third-party certified organic pillowtop toppers to the already expansive collection.


The Verona topper features 2-inches of Global Organic Latex Standard-certified organic latex encased in certified organic cotton knit fabric. The Allura topper features 2-inches of GOLS-certified organic latex encased in OMI’s signature OrganicPedic knit quilting. The Wave model is the highest profile topper in the collection, featuring 3-inches of GOLS-certified organic latex encased in the company’s exclusive certified organic cotton knit fabric and a body-conforming sculpted surface to ease pressure points and increase air flow under the sleeper. The Wooly is made with 3-inches of hi-loft third-party certified organic wool encased in a hand tufted certified organic cotton cover. The Wooly Lite is made with 1.5-inches of hi-loft third-party certified-organic wool encased in a hand tufted 100 percent certified organic cotton cover. The line also will incorporate third party certified wool and cotton pillows.


“Following the success of the Certified Organic Mattress collection, our retailers have been anxious for us to add a line of third party certified toppers to the mix,” said OMI Founder Walt Bader. The certified organic mattress and accessory segment, following strong growth of organic purchases in the U.S. organic market last year, is continuing to experience sales growth significantly higher than overall industry performance.”


Toppers in the Certified Organic Mattress collection retail for $575 to $1,175 in Queen.





Pure Latexbliss debuted its new all-latex InteLa-Tec collection.


The collection has been designed to bring Talalay Process all-latex mattresses at lower price points to consumers that like the feel and muscle relaxing benefits of Talalay Latex but are indifferent to the “natural characteristics.” The Talalay Latex used in each InteLa-Tec collection mattress is created through a special formulation repurposed from the same virgin high-grade synthetic latex used in 100 percent latex medical gloves.


The three mattresses in the Oeko-Tex Certified InteLa-Tec collection feature synthetic Talalay Latex pressure relief layers, synthetic Talalay Latex support cores and are available in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch profiles. The InteLa-Tec collection is priced below the company’s core Pure Latexbliss line.


“Our goal with the InteLa-Tec collection was to round out the latex category and provide a range of pricing options for consumers,” said Latex International President and Chief Executive Officer David Fisher. “We recognized that consumers interested in latex mattresses come from different points of entry—some buyers are natural-oriented, whereas others have different lifestyle and environmental concerns. “


In addition to the Sweet Slumber pillow collection—a down alternative without the price and allergy issues—Reverie introduced the Elation surround sound system for use by retailers as an accessory up-sell.


The four-speaker plus sub-woofer surround-sound system, is offered as an accessory for any foundation on the market.


Each of the four speakers attaches to the foundation legs with a universal mount that can be easily attached to the legs of an adjustable base or standard foundation to achieve surround sound for any bed.  The subwoofer is specially designed to sit underneath most beds.  The mounts eliminate the need for holes in the walls and can be easily disguised so as not to interfere with the bedroom décor.


The system features Bluetooth 3.0 technology, allowing consumers to experience high-quality sound streamed wirelessly from their iPhone, iPad, or other smart device from the comfort of their beds.


Reverie brought in tuning experts to tune the speakers’ acoustics and optimize the sound coming from underneath a bed to provide the best sound experience to users on top of the bed.


“The surround sound speaker system we developed was such a big hit at the last Las Vegas Market we decided to refine it and give retailers the option to sell the system as an accessory item, allowing them to grow their tickets sales,” said Reverie President and CEO Martin Rawls-Meehan. “It also gives consumers a chance to upgrade easily by just attaching the speakers rather than having to buy a whole new foundation.”


Suggested retail price for the Elation surround sound system is $400.





Seahawk Designs debuted a new headboard design for its popular Synergy System.


The Pecan and Espresso wood-finish headboards now feature an interchangeable, upholstered panel option that will be offered in a variety of colors and patterns, adding a unique, personalized design element.


The insert panels, which slide into place in the center of the headboard, feature a plain, tufted or box stitch design, available in an array of popular hues and fabrics, allowing the ultimate in customization.


“There is a practical element to our design as consumers will be able to change their bedroom décor without worrying about having to buy a new headboard to match, adding to the life of the product and upping the value to consumers,” said Seahawk Designs CEO William Jahn.




Sensorpedic introduced the “Super Cool” collection, five pillows, two toppers, and a mattress pad.


Each offering is covered with a unique, cool-to-the-touch fabric that allows a sleeper to rest at as much as 10 degrees lower than the ambient temperature of a bedroom.


The collection uses a natural mineral woven into the fabric to make it cool on the surface. Providing additional airflow, breathability and therapeutic pressure-relief, the cores of each pillow, topper, and protector will feature Sensopedic’s SensorFoam with Gel gel-infused, ventilated memory foam which uses gel support beads for a slightly firmer and more supportive memory foam feel.


“We recognize that cooling and airflow is still a major issue within the industry and so we are doing our part to develop products that incorporate the latest technologies into our top-of-bed offerings,” said Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development Jeff Chilton.


The Super Cool collection’s suggested retail price for pillows is $49-$99 and for toppers is $249-$399.




Spring Time Bedding added a three-model, high-end tufted hybrid collection to its Medicci & Saville brand.


The collection features top quality materials at value price points, offering its retail partners the potential for high sales margins.


All three models in the Tufted Hybrid line incorporate a hand-tufted design that anchors the top quilt panel to the bottom of the mattress to keep all components solidly in place, prolonging the life of the mattress and improving full body support. The beds also feature a tufted pocket coil support system, which reduces motion transfer and improves comfort, with heavier gauge coils at each end of the sleep surface to prevent a roll-off sensation.


“Hybrids are what the industry is looking for right now—it’s become a buzzword for retailers and consumers alike,” said Vice President Sarah Appleton. “What hasn’t been seen yet in the industry is a line of hybrid models that looks incredibly high end and incorporates the best materials available today while keeping price points at a value level


Beds in the collection retail from $1,499 to $1,999 in Queen.




Therapedic addressed demand for products offering heightened airflow with the new AgilityAir collection.


The line, including three SKUs in visco, gel visco and latex options, is a new sub brand in Therapedic’s Agility collection that uses enhanced components that significantly boost airflow and comfort.


AgilityAir is made of a combination of high-density foams, cooling gel memory foam, latex, pocketed coils and varying combinations of mini-pocket and micro-mini pocket coils.


Each SKU in the collection is made with a convoluted reticulated foam support layer, which is 100 percent air-permeable and enhances airflow by 43-percent over regular, flat foams. One enhancements is the use of mini and micro-mini pocket coils that are wrapped in a perforated, three-way stretch encased fabric, allowing for even better airflow and increased comfort throughout the bed. The mattresses also include perforations in the side support rails to increase air circulation.


“The addition of perforations in multiple levels within these mattresses is really a unique technology,” said President and CEO Gerry Borreggine. “The multiple airflow-increasing components are exactly what retailers need to stand out amongst the competition, and we believe we’ve created the right airflow-fix for the bedding industry.”




King Koil reported its “best ever” market response to a new product with its new Duck Dynasty mattress line.   


“We saw tremendous traffic from many quality retailers and experienced the greatest response we’ve ever had at any show to a single product introduction, the King Koil Duck Dynasty line,” noted company president and COO Dave Roberts.


The company designed the Duck Dynasty presentation—on which a new Duck Dynasty environment for retail stores is based—to simulate the typical grassy fields and marshland that attract ducks in the wild. 


The Duck Dynasty beds, accented with the TV show’s trademarked duck camouflage, featured headboards with familiar sayings from the reality series like “Work hard. Nap hard.”


The presentation also included standing life-size images of the four key Robertson family members, plus a giant TV screen at the showroom entrance that presented new Duck Dynasty retail TV spots.


Also near the entryway was a Duck Dynasty-themed video game.


“Our objective in Las Vegas was to provide retailers with a reasonably priced line that had the brand excitement and pulling power to attract the millions of loyal Duck Dynasty fans,” Roberts said. “We came away from the market very confident that an RSA can easily open an entertaining conversation with a consumer about this product line.  And the marketing support package, which includes traditional and online advertising plus dramatic in-store display elements, only make the process of engaging mattress shoppers that much easier.”





Wright Global Graphics highlighted DomeTec, a cost effective and visually dynamic alternative to embroidered point-of-purchase materials.


DomeTec can be applied to almost any surface, and features an embossed metallic look while maintaining a soft, flexible feel.


DomeTec can be developed as a brand label or an enhancement to any top-of-bed product. It also can be a replacement to an embroidered border. With an unlimited color palette DomeTec helps product stand out in a crowded showroom.


“From displays to top-of-bed to border branding, the DomeTec application draws consumers to a product with its dimensional qualities and ability to capture and reflect light in the showroom, creating a strong visual impact for customers,” said Senior Vice President of Business Development & Chairman of the Board Don Wright.



Power Rooms

Bedrooms — either master or secondary — continue to increase in importance in today’s homes.

As the world whirls around at lightning speed, everyone craves a welcome retreat in which to recover from the everyday hustle and bustle. Today’s bedrooms seem to be busier than ever, and people are looking for their rooms to be functional, peaceful and welcoming.

In Home Furnishings Business’ most recent survey in which we talked bedrooms with 536 consumers who have bought bedroom furniture within the last 18 months, consumers are nearly split between traditional and contemporary styles.

For master bedrooms, 37.2 percent of the consumers are traditionalist, while 36.3 percent opt for more contemporary looks. For guest or second bedrooms, 40.5 percent of the consumers lean toward traditional and 35.7 percent took the contemporary road.

Other style families like European country, Mission, cottage and the middle ground transitional each garnered less than 8 percent of the thumbs up from consumers for either bedroom.

The consumer insight lines up with what is happening within the vendor showrooms throughout the industry.

Traditional and contemporary seem to get the most play, while suppliers looking to reach across the aisle continue to offer updated traditional or softer contemporary styles, and transitional remains a buzzword throughout industry speak although it likely doesn’t hold much meaning for consumers.

John Iasiello, vice president of wood products for Emerald Home Furnishings, sees bedroom styling trending a bit more streamlined. Still traditional, he said, but a cleaner, slightly smaller traditional for Emerald’s target consumer.

One of Emerald’s top sellers is the Riviera group in a linen finish and laden with molding and dramatic curves. Iasiello said the company isn’t likely to leave that business behind, but it is tracking to capture a younger consumer with a cleaned-up design spectrum.

Brian Edwards, president of Fairmont Designs, points to the company’s Grand Estates collection as an example of the continuing trend of traditional bedroom.

“In bedroom furniture, our retailers are looking for proven winners,” he said. “When they land on that tried-and-true group, they tend to stick with it.”

While traditional continues to lead the parade at Fairmont, it’s not your grandmother’s traditional. The latest bedrooms throughout the industry are loaded with creature comforts to make unwinding, sleep and work—as a number from our consumer panel say they do—easier.

Winning bedroom suppliers have tricked out nightstands with power strips to accommodate smartphones, tablets and other devices that have replaced many alarm clocks. Some beds are also equipped with soft, touch lighting to help guide people through the middle-of-the-night treks to the bathroom. Dressers and chests have morphed to accommodate televisions, DVRs and other electronics.

Bedrooms are no longer quiet sanctuaries in which consumers retreat to restore and reconnect with partners. Instead, as our survey shows, those rooms are being used as family entertainment hubs (26.5 percent), reading stations (30.4 percent), comfy work spaces (25.9 percent), and more.

Our consumer panel — both those who bought master and second bedroom — tended toward all wood beds for their purchases. On a scale of one to seven with seven being very appealing and one being not all appealing, the master bedroom buyers rated an all wood bed with a 6.07 and second bedroom buyers gave all wood a 5.52 rating. Second for both groups were metal and wood beds— 3.54 for master bedrooms and 3.88 for second bedrooms.





Want More?

A more in-depth report on the bedroom category is available for purchase at—Industry Info—Industry Reports—Bedroom, or by calling Natalia Hurd at (404) 390-1535.

What Sells: Leather Upholstery - Consumers Sound

Consumers in the market for leather upholstery tend to be younger, live in higher income brackets and exude a slight preference for contemporary.
In a Home Furnishings Business survey conducted last month of consumers who had bought leather upholstery within the last year, 55.6 percent of them were 44 years old or younger. When you stack leather upholstery side by side with fabric upholstery, we found only 38.6 percent of the consumers who opted for fabric upholstery were 44 years old or younger.
We found it encouraging that younger consumers are choosing to buy furniture. Another interesting tidbit that made us take note—the leather category captures the attention of male shoppers. Men are more inclined, 51.2 percent, to choose leather upholstery over fabric.

Off On Leather


The 262 consumers in the survey also showed 43.2 percent of the respondents who bought leather had a household income of at least $75,000 while 35.8 percent with household income of $75,000 or higher bought fabric upholstery. Speaking of money, price of the product tends to have a smidge more influence on the purchase of leather than on fabric. It’s interesting to note, however, that quality is the most important purchase motivator for both categories.

Another key factor in the purchasing decision revolves around goods made in the U.S.A. We asked our consumer panel if they “like the style and comfort of a piece of upholstery” would they be willing to pay more if it was produced domestically. More than 81 percent—81.5 percent to be precise—of the leather purchases said yes. Of the fabric upholstery consumers, 76.5 percent said they would pay more for American-made product. Both the leather consumer and the fabric upholstery consumer are

Internet savvy, and both sets took to the Web to research prior to buying. The leather consumer at 72.8 percent edged out the fabric consumer at 66.2 percent in the research department. How do they feel about buying online? The leather consumer indicated a higher penchant to by online than consumers who bought fabric upholstery. Nearly 72 percent of the leather consumers indicated they would be likely to very likely to consider buying online. Nearly 55 percent of fabric upholstery consumers said they would be likely to very likely to do the same.

Once the research is done, however, the leather consumer is quicker to pull the trigger on the purchase.

Those in the leather market are more likely to shop for a month or less before buying, while those shopping for fabric designs extend the shopping period out to three months.

The overall leather upholstery shopping experience was not without its challenges for our consumer panel. The biggest problem they ran into was distinguishing differences between products.

Who can blame them? The leather category is filled with a variety of terms, an abundance of leather grades, types and even “bonded leather” that many in the furniture business don’t always understand. Interesting enough, despite the confusion about half of the consumers said they would like to have had a wider selection of products from which to choose.

In the style category, contemporary is the preferred choice for leather upholstery, while the fabric consumer leans more strongly toward the traditional realm. One thing is for certain in both leather and fabric upholstery. Custom order goods are great, but the consumer isn’t going to wait more than two months for a sofa to be delivered. More than 90 percent of the leather consumers aren’t likely to wait more than two months, and 43.2 percent want their product delivered within a month. Fabric upholstery consumers are a little more forgiving on the delivery time frame with 85.9 percent saying two months is the limit. When you look at the one-month period, 36.5 percent are willing to wait. Nearly 50 percent said they’d be OK waiting up to two months. Overall, our consumer panel was “very satisfied” with their upholstery purchases—both leather and fabric.


“It has great design and great size. The mid-century style is on trend, and it’s available in so many leathers and Ultrasuedes. Plus, it ships in four weeks.”

Peggy Burns.

Circle Furniture. Acton, Mass.



“The combination of Flexsteel’s strong reputation and the incredible comfort of this style has carried it to the top of our sales charts for years. Our customers and salespeople also like the special order capability.” Retail is $1,899.

Mark Mueller

Mueller Furniture. Belleville, Ill.


“The casual/contemporary styling, 100 percent leather product, great seat comfort and the fact that it can be ordered in many colors and qualities of leather make it a winner.” Retail is $998.

Mike Griffieth
Morris Home Furnishings

Dayton, Ohio



 “It’s a winner because of the track arm styling with wood trim in 100 percent leather. The seat comfort is superior to other manufacturers, and the price point is $998.”

Mike Griffieth
Morris’ Ashley Furniture HomeStore

Dayton, Ohio


The classic styled sofa is the company’s top-selling frame because of its traditional styling, comfort and basic design elements that match with a variety of home interiors, said Tommy Shores Jr., CEO and president. The sofa is also made in Hickory, N.C., allowing it to speak to customers looking for American-made goods. Suggested retail is $3,390.


Consumer desire for eclectic décor has driven CR Laine to add pieces with soft modern styling, said Holly Blalock, vice president of marketing. The design inspiration is mid-century modern which pairs in both funky and serious décor, she said. Suggested retail is $2,205.



Palliser’s sectional offers an abundance of seating without overpowering a room. The casual contemporary design offers low profile, tufted seating for extra comfort.

Priced to retail at $1,299, the Canoy features transitional styling with an inner soft coil seating for extra comfort.




Ellia is a traditional, deep button-tufted sofa, but it is made “extremely contemporary with the stainless steel” accents, said Martin Chapman, director of leather development. Ellia is one of the first leather frames the company introduced earlier this year with its Mia Bella by Michael Amini leather division. Retail is $7,999.


A high-style factor with an understandable design make the Inspiration collection from American Leather a versatile work horse. The design is clean and functional and works in a variety of spaces. The two-seat sofa in a mid-grade leather retails around $5,400 and a sectional would be priced around $9,500.


A casual style with contrast stitching gives Alpha the ability to slide into any home with ease. The sofa comes with contrasting fabric pillows to soften the look. Retail is $1,900.


Traditional design coupled with total comfort makes this sectional among Natuzzi’s top sellers. Shown in this classic wine leather, the detailing of the shaped front offers consumer appeal. Retail is $1,699-$1,799.


Leather Upholstery Snapshot

Leather upholstery remains a bright star in the furniture industry and has garnered quite the following among consumers. Retail sales of the category for 2012 hit $4.49 billion, an increase of 7.72 percent from 2011 sales of $4.17 billion. The total upholstery market—both leather and fabric—totaled $24.18 billion. Leather sales were 18.5 percent of the total.

Leather upholstery sales have steadily increased since 2009 at a rather impressive rate, outpacing both the growth of the industry and fabric upholstery. The category’s cumulative growth rate from 2009 to now has been a whopping 20.04 percent. From 2011 to 2012, the category posted a 7.72 percent increase. For the same time period—2011 to 2012—the total furniture industry grew 6.95 percent. Fabric upholstery posted a 6.57 percent increase during that period.

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