And mark your calendars for a market near you

By Michael Posa, FTS

Happy holidays BrandSource members!

I’m sure many of you are busy unburying from Black November. So far we have heard mixed results, with some members posting strong monthly sales of newly-purchased inventory, often on deep discounts. Others have still been experiencing some headwinds from aged (read: often overpriced) inventory and limited demand from their markets.

It remains a challenging moment, but the silver lining is that the bottom hasn’t dropped out, as some may have feared. Demand is certainly soft, with many retailers — from national chains to local independents — experiencing high single- to low double-digit declines over 2022. But we can take solace in the fact that this performance, even though it may not feel so great, is still way better than 2019 for most.

Forecasters are expecting similar demand next year, with the caveat that if interest rates begin to fall back before the second half it could spur a bit of consumer demand. For now though, we continue to face rising consumer credit card balances, pressure on consumer financing rates, a limited housing supply and record high ownership costs.

Now is the time to ensure your operating costs are in line, your sales staff is properly trained and performing, your inventory is priced right for what the market will bear and you are aligned with the right vendors that are supporting you. It may also be time to start thinking about new categories and vendor partners to draw in fresh traffic, including higher-end lines, outdoor products and new accessories. These categories are performing better than mid-to-promotional furniture, right now, and we have inked many deals this year on behalf of BrandSource members. So please reach out to us if any guidance or introductions are needed.

It’s also probably time to plan your marketing budgets for next year. While we recognize that it’s easy for us to say, I would implore you to not tighten in this area. The major players certainly haven’t, as many of you have seen via their strong promotional activity and offers in recent months, and especially over the last few weeks.

Lastly, I must mention calendar planning for 2024. We would love to see you at at least one of the events that FTS participates in. We are at every major market, all the regional shows, some BrandSource region meetings and of course, the annual AVB Summit and national Convention. We are looking forward to an incredibly strong, mattress-focused show at Summit this coming March, followed by a full home furnishings extravaganza at the August Convention.

If you can make the time, now may be a good opportunity to plan ahead and add a regional market to your itinerary (see the schedule below). With shorter travel distances and fewer distractions, these markets are much more efficient to shop than a major show. In most cases you can achieve your goals in a day.

Getting yourself in front of manufacturers can never hurt either, as the more top-of-mind you are, the better your chances to grab the deal first, possibly get better rep coverage and *gasp* maybe even receive some co-op support, which some furniture suppliers are beginning to provide. (To date, co-op has been primarily limited to the mattress space.)

What’s more, if you never get a chance to chat with the AVB and FTS teams, regional markets are your best bet for meeting face to face and learning about all the tools, rebates and vendor programs we have to help grow your business and make life easier.

We will see you on the other side. Happy New Year and happy selling!

2024 Regional Furniture Market Schedule

Jan. 7-9, Edison, NJ

March 6-8, Red Wing, MN

May 14-16, Long Beach, CA

Sept. 11-13, Red Wing, MN

Sept. 12-14, Chicago

Michael Posa is general manager of home furnishings and the Furniture Technology Source (FTS) lead for YSN publisher AVB Inc.

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