17197 Mon, 10/19/2009 - 12:15pm
HIGH POINT, N.C.–The chill that has hung in the air over the furniture industry for the past year may be lifting, at least figuratively.
The High Point Market, the biggest home furnishings show in the country, kicked off over the weekend with both low temperatures and expectations. The former was expected to rise over the course of the week, but the latter may also be slowly edging its way up. While attendance and traffic numbers have grown ever more meaningless, there was a sense that the worst is over for the furniture business and that a return to normalcy—at least furniture industry normalcy—may be starting to happen.
Exhibitors reported encouraging, if occasionally spotty, market visits by their retail customers and those stores said they had two good holiday sale periods—Labor Day and Columbus Day—over the past six weeks. But they cautioned that the times in between holiday sales remain slow. Both exhibitors and retailers said buying activity was being driven as much by inventory replenishment as any true uptick in retail sales.
High Point saw the usual bevy of designer beauties on hand to showcase their new products: Candice Olson, Kathy Ireland, B. Smith, Alexa Hampton and Thom Filicia, among others.
Whether it had a designer pedigree or not, many of the product introductions at market continued to play off the entertainment and technology card, with flat-panel TVs being the driving force behind many new case goods products.
And while with some 11 million square feet of exhibition space, it’s difficult—if not impossible—to quantify design trends, there appears to be more color and prints in the upholstery world and a continued focus on case finishes and shapes heavily influenced by the Restoration Hardware look.
The weather forecast for the next several days of market? Warming up.