AVB University: Industry Expert Joe Higgins Sees Light at the End of the Tunnel

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Appliance industry veteran, YSN columnist and frequent BrandSource keynoter Joe Higgins provided an encouraging look at the U.S. economy, consumer confidence and members’ business prospects in an exclusive COVID-era update last week.

Industry Expert, Joe Higgins

In his online assessment, Higgins presented a worst of times/best of times scenario that pulled no punches. “Life has changed,” he acknowledged, with coronavirus impacting vacations, school, sporting events and even visits to the dentist. What’s more, the effect of mandatory business closures and consumer quarantines in the second quarter led to the lowest level of personal spending since the Great Depression.

But conversely, money that would have gone toward vacations, meals out and other pre-pandemic activities, combined with government stimulus checks, has led to a surge in savings and improved personal credit, he said. And consumers who’ve spent weeks cooking at home on aging ranges and watching TV from frayed sectionals are just itching to loosen their checkbooks.

Also auguring well for Americans in general and BrandSource dealers in particular are:

  • Rising retail sales
  • Stabilizing consumer confidence
  • Declining unemployment
  • A lower foreclosure rate than during the Great Recession
  • And brisk home sales, spurred by low mortgage rates.

“The economy is structurally sound,” Higgins declared, but is still being driven by the virus. Ultimately, he said, “It is up to us to get the numbers [of COVID cases] moving in the right direction by taking personal responsibility” for engaging in safety protocols.

Looking ahead, Higgins projected a 3 percent decline in global GDP this year, but a 5 percent increase in 2021.

The entire half-hour presentation is available for replay in the Backroom and here.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.