Difficulties receiving product will limit how many fall introductions retailers will see in person this coming week
HIGH POINT – Buyers that typically attend Premarket are here to see new product, often nailing down exclusive distribution in the process.
Discussions at the Sept. 13-14 event likely will focus on other topics, namely how to get a hold of goods that can ship – right now.
That’s partly due to ongoing consumer demand in the marketplace. But it’s also because some new product simply won’t be here for Premarket – either it’s tied up at the port or it’s still on the water from Asia and not expected to be here until October.
Covid-related shutdowns in Vietnam and Malaysia have contributed to this challenge, although many samples were shipping or ready to ship before the shutdowns took effect. Thus, logistics – getting goods on a container and getting those containers unloaded at various ports – has been as much of a challenge, sources say.
The problem appears to be more acute on the wood side of the business than upholstery. That’s because most upholstery is still made here in the U.S., while most wood product comes from overseas.
Derrick Ng, president of case goods and upholstery importer Lifestyle Enterprise, said there won’t be much new to see at Lifestyle at Premarket. But that will give buyers the chance to learn what’s available now and how soon they can get it.
“I would rather show you what I have (and what is selling) and that will give you more confidence to give it a try,” he said, noting that buyers may easily change their minds about ordering new product anyway as they may just want what they can get now from Asia. “With limited supply and workers, the focus will be on what they can sell and what will make money.”
Case goods and upholstery resource Elements International will have some new product in all major categories, including on the bedding side. However, company President Mike Wurster said the main introductions will be unveiled in October.
“I think we will still have enough new to make it worthwhile for customers coming to see us at Premarket,” he said. “And there will be a few new things from Mexico that we will be able to take orders on. But we will have a better representation at the October market.”
He added that from an attendance standpoint, he expects this to feel more like a pre-pandemic Premarket than this past April, which he said felt more like a regular market.
“We are going to see some good customers,” he said. “But I don’t think it is going to be the volume of people we saw over the past few premarkets.”
Nathan Cressman, president and CEO of Magnussen Home, said the company will have product in all categories including its core wood offering of bedroom, dining and occasional. But there will be some gaps in what it plans to show overall this fall market season.
“If I were to guess, compared to a normal Premarket, it is about 30% to 40% (of a normal mix),” he said, noting that some categories will have a more complete lineup than others. “Bedroom was harder to get from Vietnam, and some is still sitting on the water in L.A. due to port congestion.”
But Cressman said he doesn’t think that new product will be the main area of concern for most retailers.
“It is important to have new stuff, but the truth of it is that so many people have backlogs that have not been right-sized,” he said. “I don’t know if we are there yet…Retailers want to freshen up their floors a bit, but if it is selling and working, there is not a whole lot you need to do to shift the narrative yet.”
He said a big area of emphasis for Magnussen and its customers will be “How do we partner with each other and get product shipped the quickest? And how do we get back to some sense of normalcy or flow.””
A.R.T. Furniture said that while it plans to showcase a new North American-made upholstery collection, its case goods offerings will be more of a preview of fall introductions versus a full product launch.
“Since the last market was only in June and product production has been delayed for the most part, we are very careful not to bring something that we don’t know when it is going to ship,” said Doug Rozenboom, president. “We are not coming out with too many things that put the cart before the horse because we are careful not to go faster than what our ability to ship can provide.”
Thus, he noted, the emphasis will be on things the company knows can ship “versus showing people things that may ship next year.”
In June, he added, the company already came out with four new collections. “We want to make sure those deliver.”
These expectations fall in line with those expressed by organizers of the Premarket sponsor’s committee. The group typically wants participating showrooms to be as close to market ready as possible for the upcoming April or October markets. This time, however, it loosened those requirements, understanding the supply chain disruptions in Asia.
Event organizers also want buyers to come back in October in order to shop goods they didn’t see at Premarket.
Doug Bassett, chair of the Premarket sponsor committee and President of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture, said his company will be showing a new solid wood bedroom that is part of its Artisan & Post line. This marks the first solid wood group it has shown from the line in more than a year. Next month, buyers will see a new veneered suite it is holding back for the October market.
The new product, he added, also will help fill holes in the line since the company reduced its number of active collections from 24 to 10 this past spring.
“We want to give them each their own time in the sun, and we also want to encourage dealers that visit us at Premarket to come back in October,” Bassett told Home News Now.
As a long-time event sponsor, Legacy Classic Furniture often is close to 100% market ready at Premarket. This time, it is closer to 70%, said Neill Robinson, president. Attributing this to product getting held up in the port of Charleston, he said getting product in a timely fashion has been complicated due to logistics.
“It left in time to be here, but it was the last one to leave. Sometimes when you are shipping new products for Premarket, a lot of stars have to align to get it,” he said, noting that the items not arriving in time include dining for two of five new collections. Product from the other collections will be shown as well as two new freestanding dining sets the company is producing in Bangladesh.
Riverside Furniture estimated that 60% of its case goods mix – including bedroom, dining and some home office – will be shown this week minus some occasional groups.
Bernhardt estimates that it will have about 80% of its mix, compared to a normal 90% or more. This includes a full assortment of domestic upholstery, which was not affected by the shutdowns in Vietnam.
Other companies told Home News Now they are expecting to be pretty close to market ready despite the challenges of receiving goods from overseas. Manwah USA said it will have a representation from each of its core lines including MW Home, Cheers and its CH2 line of stationary upholstery.
“We will have product to show people,” said Kevin Castellani, company director of corporate communications, noting that some of the line is coming from its China production facilities and some from its Vietnam plant. “Our factory is operational in Vietnam, but not at 100%…The shutdown is hurting us, but it is not crippling us.”
Avalon Furniture said it will be 100% market ready, with a full assortment of nine new bedrooms and three new dining rooms.
Hooker Furniture said it will be close to 80% market ready, which is about normal for a Premarket, said Jeremy Hoff, CEO.
The mix will include two full case goods collections and key pieces from a third collection.
“Our plan was to launch these three collections,” Hoff told Home News Now, adding that they have been planned for about a year and a half. “We did have a fourth on the board up to about eight months ago, but in this environment, we think less is more, so we focused on these three.”
Hoff added that the company’s “Launch 365” initiative is also about developing product on a year-round basis and showing it to various customers at the right time.
“We are not going to change any of our strategic objectives because of something we can’t control,” Hoff said of recent factory shutdowns in Vietnam. “In June, we had our biggest written market since 2016, and we ordered things we believed in and we put the money behind it and it worked. In this environment, it is about getting the product right and getting the product to our customers so they can sell it.”