From Home Furnishing Business
High Point Market Reports Strong Order Writing Despite Lower Attendance
The one and only High Point Market of 2020 concluded on October 21, wrapping up a 9-day expanded Market that was executed with a multitude of safety measures in light of the ongoing pandemic. Despite the noticeable differences, Fall Market exhibitors are exuding optimism and reporting strong order writing from the show.
“By Tuesday, October 20, the Oly flagship had generated 56% visitor traffic compared to Fall 2019. That said, order revenue exceeded Fall 2019 results already by Saturday,” said Frank Leyon, director of Global Sales for Oly Studio. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the quality of client traffic. Being open and ready assured clients that their business is important to us and proved that they can be appropriately and efficiently supported during an otherwise unique and challenging business year.”
Several other exhibitors echoed the sentiment. “Traffic-wise, there were peaks and lulls. Those who came were serious buyers. We opened a lot of new accounts and will be very busy after the show,” shared co-founders of South + English, Palmer Smith and David Ebbetts.
“Everyone who attended was buying. We felt safe and a nice pace this time. At times very slow, but, the orders we wrote were all nice ones,” commented Kelly O’Neal of Design Legacy.
Owner of Splashworks, Tom Van Dessel, added, “The buyers that came were here with a mission to purchase.”
Celebrating their tenth anniversary, co-owner of Antique & Design Center of High Point, Amanda Kinney, cited a strong start to the show. “We kicked off Market with an energetic and exciting day full of appointments and walk-ins on Tuesday. We have plenty of space to spread out, and everyone was happy to wear a mask and stay safely distanced. The following days were slower but steady, and we still saw lots of great customers. The buyers who made the choice to come were serious and ready to do business, as were our 73 antiques dealers that traveled from all across the country.”
Scan data from on-site attendance is not yet available, but registration numbers for Fall Market were tracking at approximately 55% of fall 2019’s registration numbers for buyer companies.
When asked about their expectations for Fall Market, Erica Wingo, president of merchandising and marketing at Baker Interiors Group, shared, “Fall Market far exceeded our expectations. We saw a solid, steady stream of visitors, including many serious buyers who were here to write orders. It was hard to know what to expect given everything going on, but we saw great attendance every day and there was a lot of enthusiasm for our new and beloved collections alike. We’re certainly glad we decided to open this fall. It was wonderful for attendees to have the opportunity to view and interact with all of the products in person.”
Along the same lines, president of Abner Henry, Russ Thomas, commented, “Given the pandemic, we didn’t know what to expect. There are no precedents. Ultimately, we’ve been extremely pleased with the traffic and the quality of the shoppers in our space. The showroom experience makes a world of difference for customers - being able to see and touch the furniture for themselves.”
Neil MacKenzie, director of marketing for Universal Furniture, shared, “Overall attendance was far better than what we forecasted as we saw around 50-60% of our normal market numbers. Attendees were writing business and we actually were pleased to meet a lot of new faces that were experiencing our space for the first time.”
Although international traffic was virtually nonexistent, buyers from all over the United States traveled to Fall Market. According to Todd Nabors, Customer Relations Manager for Thayer Coggin, “We have hosted visitors from all over the country. Customers from Utah, Colorado, California and even Alaska visited the Thayer Coggin showroom for the first time. While the volume of visitation has been less, the quality has been high. We have sold almost all of our showroom samples, and we will be working at full capacity to produce special orders until the end of 2020 and beyond.”
Given current travel restrictions and the largest Premarket on record, Market Authority officials acknowledged that traffic patterns into High Point would be considerably different than previous years. “We knew this Market would be different, but we also knew both buyers and sellers were counting on us to open since home furnishings sales are so strong right now. High Point is where they wanted to be,” commented Tom Conley, president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority.
Sherrill Furniture Companies reported successful appearances for both Premarket and Fall Market. “Between Premarket and October Market, our orders are right on par with where we would normally be without the pandemic,” shared Madeline Brown, Sherrill’s Marketing Manager.
“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our state and local health partners, the exhibitors who committed to open, the buyers who chose to come, our loyal industry and community partners and service providers, and all the staff and attendees who diligently followed our safety guidelines onsite, I am elated we were able to successfully execute Fall Market,” added Conley. “It was important to demonstrate that it could be done safely, and now we look ahead to Spring Market 2021 knowing what needs to be done if we’re still in the midst of a pandemic come April.”
Fall Market ran from October 13-21, 2020. Spring Market will return to the typical 5-day structure and is scheduled for April 17-21, 2021. Registration will open in late January at www.highpointmarket.org.