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From Home Furnishing Business

Editor’s Note: Is it Safe to Come Out?

by Bob George,

First let me confess. I am a southerner and have never been in a storm shelter, but I experienced one in a movie. I can imagine the feeling of being sheltered in place with the turmoil happening outside, praying that everything would be in place when it was over.

Well, it’s over. The store is still standing, and the consumer is ready to buy. Close rates are up more than 20% with less traffic, but an increased average ticket. However, there is not time to enjoy the rebound due to multiple hurdles in the way. First is product shortage, as manufacturers cope with their own unique challenges caused by the pandemic. Retailers are forced to commit to orders through the end of the year, introducing additional risk.

Personnel shortages are occurring with tenured, critical employees deciding it is time to retire. Many retail sales associates, already frustrated with product deliveries, are handling equally frustrated consumers and are leaving with the stress of added workloads. While there appears to be some reasons for hope in eliminating COVID-19, the remnants remain: “mask vs. no mask”, required vaccinations, and an endless series of new employee relations decisions. What lingers is the feeling that it could all happen again. Maybe PTSD does exist from the disruption caused by the pandemic.

While many checking accounts are bulging with customer deposits, the recently released stimulus checks can continue the demand for furniture. The positive forecast shown in Table A affirms the possible growth. Still there is trepidation and not wanting to return to the “cellar”.

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