By David Gill
In a little more than a week, 2008 will transform into 2009. The new year will bring a new presidential administration, but whether it will be able to solve the old problems with the economy is, of course, open to question.
Even with the bleak shape of things, however, there is business to be done for enterprising sheet, towel and bedding makers in 2009.
The lousy economy itself, believe it or not, presents one opportunity. The conventional wisdom is that when things are tough, people stay home as opposed to going out to eat or for entertainment, or even going away on vacations. Cuddled on their couches, they pay more attention to their homes’ decor, and are more likely to spend the money they didn’t lay out for the cruise to Antigua on new bedding or drapes or accessories.
Along the same lines (again, conventional wisdom talking here), consumers favor home decor with cheerful designs and colors to counteract the gloom and doom surrounding us all. So the opportunity in ’09 is for bedding, window products and accessories that take chances.
Several manufacturers of top-of-the-bed products are offering comforters and blankets as ways to beat the high cost of heating one’s home. A good, warm bedcovering can enable a homeowner to turn his or her thermostat down a couple of degrees, thus saving at least a few pennies on the utility bill. Even though oil prices have dropped by two-thirds since the end of the summer, reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil remains a hot button (pardon the pun), and there’s every reason for top-of-the-bed vendors to tweak the home-heating message in this direction.
Which brings us to the “green” story, one that could pick up even more steam if the Obama administration steps up the attack on global warming. The consumer search for green products could become even more intensified in the new year, opening doors for those textiles producers that already have green products in their line—and pushing those that don’t even further into this direction.
Quality-of-sleep stories were front and center in the mattress industry through 2008, and it has been said by many in the industry (including your faithful correspondent) that the utility-bedding companies could follow suit. Americans’ health concerns will continue to color their purchasing decisions in 2009, maybe even more so considering the extra stress the economy has brought to many families.
The bottom line is that textiles companies can boost the top line, even in an economy headed to hell on a hangtag. The vendors that will win in an otherwise losing year are those who find the right opportunities for their product lines, and who stick to the clear road to growth.