Bold home furnishings predictions for 2024

By Gordon Hecht, Contributor

The following is reposted from the Nov./Dec. 2023 issue of Furniture World magazine.

Whether you browse World News Weekly or cast a glance at the National Enquirer at the supermarket checkout, chances are you’ll soon see headlines touting “Amazing Predictions!” and “Bold Revelations!” for 2024.

I would rather cast my fortune on rolling boxcars three times in a row at Caesar’s Palace during next month’s Winter Market in Las Vegas, but you can be sure that millions of readers will live by the information in those tabloids.

In the spirit of making predictions, here is my forecast for our home furnishing industry in 2024. I encourage you to save a copy of this article and review it during the 2025 Rose Bowl Parade to see how many I get right!

January

Interest rates will draw major interest. Small changes in that number mean big opportunities for your business. Look for a drop in mortgage rates. Even a .05% decline causes people to buy homes … and the furniture to fill them. A 1% drop in the prime rate means lower consumer finance rates — time to promote extended free financing. A 2% drop means it’s time to build that new store and/or warehouse or buy a new delivery vehicle. 

February

Tax attack! Those W-2s were sent out last month. People who are expecting a refund are camped out at H&R Block or working out the amount on TurboTax. You’ll soon see them browsing your store and ready to spend once their checks come in. Prepare for it by creating a sale or “be-back” event. Offer a “$99 Starts Any Sale” promo. Collect a small deposit to hold the price of any product. When your customer gets their refund and pays for their purchase, you’ve got the sale. 

March

Big changes in personnel this month! More than 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age every day. That means your top seasoned sales and operations people are getting ready to pack it in. If you don’t have a succession plan, you will be caught short-handed. The good news is that some of those 10,000 rock ’n rollers are looking for a part-time second career. Now is a grand time to add on great folks looking to work 15-25 hours a week.  

April

The slow boat hasn’t come in! It’s hard to believe, but in 2024 we are still staking our businesses on shipments from China, Viet Nam or Malaysia. Either you sold off samples in anticipation of that shiny new merchandise you ordered at the Vegas Market or your phone is ringing with customer complaints of undelivered merchandise. Plan for these slowdowns by setting up a reward system for disappointed shoppers ($500 in store credit if we fail to meet our delivery promise) and a punishment system for vendors who overpromise and under-deliver. Think in terms — like 90-day terms if they ship late, or 5% off invoice for late shipments. If your vendors are true partners, they will sign on when they get your market orders. 

May

Memorial Day sales will be huge, but that’s the last week of the month. Winning retailers will promote gifts for Mother’s Day and upcoming weddings and graduations. That means mattress sets, dining furniture and living room packages. Forward-thinking retailers will already have a wedding or graduation registry at their shops. The happy grad or couple pick out the prize they want and their families chip in to buy it. 

June

Family vacations will steal your sales. It’s a fact. Travel spending is up, reducing discretionary dollars spent on furniture and bedding. But the choice is yours — you can stare at the four walls of your store or choose from one of these: promote staycations by featuring overstuffed family room furniture. Or offer no payments until September. Or go whole hog and give away a vacation package with minimum purchase. 

July

Most store managers live in fear that their trusted office manager or data entry clerk will quit and no one will understand the point-of-sale process. However, I boldly predict that 20 or more store managers will declare their independence from fear by demanding training on all office functions, enabling them to survive without the office help that holds them hostage. End fear in your store this month. And if you are the store or factory owner, learn those functions too!

August

They are either coming in or going out. By month eight, one of your local competitors will give up and burn out with one of those whiz-bang, wall-to-wall sell-offs. Or one of those national behemoths will pick your burgh for expansion. Either one can disrupt your business and steal market share. But you don’t have to be the next store with garish black and yellow posters in your windows. If the NBA playoffs are over by now (they seem to last forever), you will have heard that “the best defense is a good offense” at least four score times. Go on offense and give 110%! 

September

September marks the start of a season you’ll surely want to greet. The first week of the month will be so hot that the Christmas candy will be melting at Walmart. But the real important periods are baseball playoffs and football (college and pro). That means TV time, which means recliners! Have them in-stock and ready to go. Selling recliners doesn’t restrict you to sub-$500 sales either. Why not give them away free with select family room furniture or premium mattress sets? 

October

You won’t be able to buy time, meaning radio and TV time. In case you haven’t heard, there is some sort of a presidential election in 2024, and whoever the candidates are, their ad spend will look like a nuclear arms race on steroids. Your loyal TV and radio stations will drop you like a third-party candidate to reap the rich rates that the Dems and GOP pay. Fewer people are reading the paper, and local candidates are jamming the post office with junk mail. Pick your advertising source and invest heavily. Vote “No” on sales slowdowns!

November

The votes have been counted and 51% of the country will be happy with the election results. And 49% will hate them and fight it. But after an election, we also tend to see spirits rise, along with the stock market and overall expectations of well-being. I predict that 51% of vendors and retailers will take advantage of the good feelings and promote heavily. The other 49% will grumble, and half of those will not see 2026.

December

Some things just won’t fit down the chimney.  Try as we might, we have not convinced the public that a new sofa, mattress, recliner or dresser has a place under that decorated tree. They prefer to waste their money on TVs, clothes and jewelry. You won’t make it with coat racks and silent butlers. (Does anyone still make those?) I predict that some smart manufacturers will help retailers promote Christmas items like TV consoles and jewelry armoires by shipping in a ton of them at a hot price and offering extended terms (March 2025) on the unsold inventory. It will foster a feeling of mutual trust and partnership between vendors and retailers that will last throughout the New Year. 

On second thought, I am taking that last prediction back! 

Gordon Hecht is a business growth and development consultant to the retail home furnishings industry and a regular contributor to YSN. You can reach him at Gordon.Hecht@aol.com.

Upcoming Events