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HFA Reports: Lessons From the Road

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Inventory Shuffle & the October Market

A lot of people are asking if this October market in High Point will be the first one that looks something like normal. Do you remember normal? I don’t.

Markets have historically been the place for dealers to find what’s new and order products in advance so they can plan their inventory flow for the coming months. COVID made an absolute mess of that process in different ways.

Not Much New

First, clunky supply chains and reduced merchandise flow forced Market exhibitors to rearrange their showrooms to cover up the holes where new items would have been in more normal times. There were few new introductions to see—and there still aren’t in many cases. Lots of home furnishings retailers looked at that and thought, why should I travel to see the same merchandise? Instead, they bought up whatever was available and as much of it as possible. Their inventory grew and forced most to expand their warehouse space to accommodate it.

Inventory Glut

Just as the supply chain began to get back into sync and start moving, inflation hit, and demand took a nosedive. Now there are retailers with more inventory than they need, and orders they placed months ago are arriving. It’s crazy. Furniture retailers have become incredibly creative at unloading their inventory glut. Some who I’ve spoken to have used over-inventoried items as promotional draws to create interest and drive traffic. I’m sure you’ve noticed all of those “in stock now” promotions. Sometimes, they position those same items to bridge their regular-priced inventory with clearance merchandise. It’s very important right now to get product moving out of the front door as more is coming in the back.

High Point Market

I am not sure where that leaves our conversation about the October High Point Market. It feels great seeing friendly faces as we have at the last couple of markets; however, the numbers have not been there. Maybe Fall 2022 will finally see the return of robust foot traffic. We know there will be more new merchandise available, so the question is, how much capacity do retailers have right now to take it on?


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A  feature about Home Furnishings Association's retail members, legislation affecting the furniture industry and other retail news from HFA.