Last month was full of “do you remember?” events.
Do you remember when John Lennon was killed? Or perhaps you remember when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Has it really been six years since the giant tsunami killed nearly a quarter of a million people in Asia?
Here’s to hoping that 2011 will be remembered for a substantial economic recovery—and a return to normalcy for home furnishings sales.
Usually big moments in history come unexpectedly. But even the most short-sighted can see that 2011 is shaping up to be one of—if not THE—most important year ever for home furnishings.
Obviously, sales are not what they used to be for most of our industry. In fact, they’re not even close. Recent sales numbers show, however, that they’re slowly creeping back. Retailers and suppliers should head into 2011 at least somewhat optimistically.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported that retail sales marked a fifth straight consecutive month of growth. Admittedly, the improvements were small. November sales were a tiny .8 percent improvement over October. And November’s 2010 sales were up 7.7 percent over 2009’s pathetic numbers.
Claims for jobless benefits dipped ever-so-slightly just before the holidays. And housing starts rose a little in November following two months of declines.
President Obama may have caused a stir in his political party last month when he signed a payroll tax cut for medium and high income workers, but there’s no denying that it will mean more money in consumers’ wallets. The cuts will save a worker with annual income of $40,000 about $800 a year (or $30 per two-week paycheck). A worker with $70,000 in income will save $1,400 (or $53 per two-week paycheck).
All of these points of good news are adding up to a hopeful 2011. Instead of wishing and hoping, top retailers and vendors should be devising plans on how to jump on the slow-rolling—but steady—recovery train.
What are you planning to do to get your share of that extra spending money? Will you be ready to pounce when opportunities arise?
The next step of this slow-as-molasses recovery begins with an unprecedented number of big-time trade shows across the country this month. The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market, the Las Vegas Market and the New York International Gift Fair start the home furnishings year with an unprecedented bang.
Four major shows in the same month make for a mighty crowded trade show calendar. Thank goodness the International Housewares Association moved its annual show to March a few years ago.
Altogether, these January shows add up to millions of square feet of space packed with oodles of items to help spark sales. Surely even the most cautiously discerning retailer will find more than a few objects on which to take a chance.
These shows and the products being introduced present the first chance to set the pace for a successful year.
How will you remember 2011?