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From Home Furnishing Business

Editors Letter: DON’T THROW THAT AWAY!

By Bob George

First, let me confess up front. I am a Puritan at heart and have been accused of rubbing two pennies together to make a dime.  I didn’t say I was cheap, just frugal. Now to the point!

Watching the news on the aftermath of the storms, with the mountains of household items, building materials, and worldly possessions, my frugal side kicked in. I don’t know, but if I was in the same situation, I would be concerned with salvaging furniture. However, some of the casegoods appeared to be of better quality. I mentioned this to a non-furniture industry person and this statement brings me back to reality, “Everything is made of particleboard and when it is wet, it is ruined.” I guess my vision of carefully constructed pieces is a part of history until I remember Stickley, Harden, and others.

With that thought, I went into the research to better understand why consumers made their last furniture purchase.  The graphic below presents the statistics from Impact Consulting Services, parent company of Home Furnishings Business, most recent consumer survey:


Furniture Replacement has more than doubled, as the reason to purchase, in the past 15 years. Along with other consumer durables, the furniture industry has executed a product strategy, which assumes the consumer does not have an expectation of durability. Along with washers/dryers at 2-4 years and refrigerators at less than 10 years, we joined the disposable economy.

Without a doubt, the prices for furniture are stagnant, as can be seen from the Consumer Price Index (minus 2.3%), covered in the preceding forecasting articles.

The major question is, “Is that what a consumer wants?” Yes, the major appliance brands pursued the strategy using offshore contractor plants to produce their products at the lowest price.  The results, the premier brands – Viking, Wolf, Subzero – captured the quality position with higher prices.

Will our industry segment into two quality standards, one for the “curb” in two years and the other for a lifetime of enjoyment?  Let’s give the consumer a choice and not just believe they want cheap.

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