FTS Town Hall: A Tale of Two Cities for Furniture Biz

  • 2021 industry shipments up 21 percent through Q3
  • BrandSource dealers outpacing industry in inventory and sales
  • Vendors project more manageable business in 2022

By Alan Wolf, YSN

AVB executives described a good news/bad news scenario for home furnishings members during last week’s Furniture Technology Source (FTS) Holiday Town Hall.

The hour-long virtual meeting, hosted by Home Furnishings General Manager Michael Posa, featured an industry update and look ahead by AVB Merchandising VP Chad Evans, and a question-and-answer session for FTS members.

Related: FTS Comes to the Fore

Evans began by detailing a best-of-times landscape for the home furnishings industry in general and for BrandSource’s FTS dealers in particular. Total wholesale industry shipments, including furniture and mattresses, were up 21.1 percent this year through the third quarter amid “abnormally high demand,” he said, while BrandSource’s FTS business outpaced the market by a high multiple.

FTS dealers are also receiving a disproportionate amount of inventory, Evans noted, although “It’s still not enough because we’re selling more than we’re getting. You’ve waited a long time to get it and are probably still waiting for more.”

But after nearly 24 months of inventory struggles, relief is in sight, he and Posa shared, with mattress manufacturers projecting more normalized run rates by the end of the year, and manufacturers like Ashley adding production capacity, leasing more warehousing, and expanding their truck fleets.

See: Ashley Expanding Furniture Production, Again

Also easing inventory tightness is recently softened demand, as seen over the last several weeks by manufacturers and reported on the Town Hall by several members. But despite flattish month-over-month growth, the group’s market share gains and year-over-year sales increases remain massive, Evans said.

See also: Home Goods Sales Growth Stalled in November

Conversely, the bad news is that dealer stress levels remain “extremely high” due to a dearth of delivery drivers and other staff, as well as customer frustration over delayed orders. “It’s making it tough to manage business,” Evans said, “but you’ve still grown by a record amount. BrandSource dealers have figured out a way to do an amazing job during this difficult time.”

Looking ahead, Evans said FTS dealers will continue to outpace the industry by a considerable factor in 2022. Vendors are projecting a more manageable growth rate of 1 percent to 3 percent industrywide next year, he and Posa added, buoyed by a still sizzling housing market and continued consumer demand.

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