17807 Wed, 02/03/2010 - 12:37pm
So, yesterday the official furniture buyer, Credenza Phil, came out of his hole and saw his shadow, which means we’re going to have six more months of cold furniture sales. But then it’s going to start getting really hot.
The furniture industry, some of which is gathered in Las Vegas this week for the show at the World Market Center, is famous for three things: lousy deliveries, lack of brand name recognition and being just about the last business to come out of a recession. There’s not much that’s changed about the first two things, but when it finally does come out of tough times, things improve pretty quickly ... even if everyone in the industry is still complaining and talking about the good old days.
The consensus here at the show is that the furniture business is getting ready to come back. It’s not there yet, but there are signs that the recovery is going to happen sooner rather than later.
The mattress component of the industry is already starting to see the first glimmers of better business and at some showrooms here, the upper-end product that was introduced showed that the bedding guys think they are back. It’s generally believed that mattresses is one category that comes back earlier than some others in home.
The housing numbers are still all over the place, but in any given month there is as much good news as bad, and that certainly hasn’t been the case for most of the past two or three years. People in the trade say the business needs six to nine months of consistent good housing numbers for it to start to recover. That consistency still isn’t quite there yet, but even the bad numbers aren’t as bad as they used to be.
There is also the matter of anniversarying sales. Last year at this time, markets and stores were as empty as warehouses were full. It’s not a total reverse this year, yet the pipelines are as empty at the dealer level as they’ve ever been ... a situation suppliers are only too happy to remedy.
I saw more smiles this week than were apparent at any furniture event of the past two years. The industry is not quite back, but it’s getting close ... real close. And thank heaven for that: this is one Groundhog Day nobody wants to keep reliving.