While dealers still want what’s available now, sources say they also are seeking newness for their floors once again
HIGH POINT – Visits with additional furniture resources in the second half of premarket this week gave further evidence that the industry is eager to return to a sense of normalcy in spite of ongoing challenges, not the least of which are container rates and availability.
Appearing more like a precovid premarket – with an estimated 100 accounts shopping as many as 100 exhibiting case goods and upholstery companies – many dealers also seemed focused on what’s new as much as what’s in stock.
“In the last two to three markets the discussion has been on the backlog and increased demand for furniture,” said Greg Morgan, executive vice president, sales and merchandising at Bauhaus Furniture. “This market it is about new projects. They are looking to freshen up their assortment. As the backlog comes down, it is a prime opportunity for them to freshen up their floors.”
Bauhaus showed about eight new groups featuring a mix including sofa, loveseat and chair combinations along with some sectionals. It also introduced Crypton performance fabrics to the line, which Morgan said received good early response.
“We’ve seen several of our majors,” he said of the 8-10 retailers that came in during the event.
Many companies said they were expecting new product to arrive in time for April, giving retailers another reason to come back to High Point.
Full-line furniture resource Elements International showcased some new bedrooms from Asia as well as some new domestic upholstery frames. It also had some new product on hand from Mexico.
Of the interest in the new goods, company President Mike Wurster said that “It feels more like a premarket of years past and not like the past year. Some people are actively looking to buy.” He added that there also continues to be interest in goods available from the warehouse or things that will ship soon.
Jamie Collins, executive vice president of full-line resource Homelegance, also said there was interest in the latest introductions.
“They are looking for new product, and in a lot of cases they are looking for new sources because of lead times,” he said. “They are trying to find factories with capacity and some of them are trying to expand beyond their countries of origin.”
The lineup at Homelegance included six new bedrooms, eight new dining sets as well as eight new upholstery groups, featuring a mix of stationary and motion.
“We have the newness for them, but we also are showing a lot of our bestsellers and are bringing in some groups we know we can flow from overseas,” Collins said. “We also have significant domestic inventory, which bridges the gap in lead times, shipping delays, port congestion and everything that slows us down.”
Of the mix in styles, he added, “We are trying to keep it right down the middle of what works. Nobody wants to take a risk right now.”
American Woodcrafters showed a mix of new and inline goods, including case goods from Indonesia, its main source country. This includes dining, a newer category that has been added to some of the company’s bestselling collections.
“The advantage for us is that we’ve been in stock and have done a really good job filling voids for people that have needed product,” said CEO Chuck Foster, of the company’s inline product. “The dealers also are looking at new products that they were interested in from last market that we have on order…It’s clear they want to expand their assortment with new things.”
Legacy Classic showcased two new case goods collections, as well as some new freestanding dining room furniture. While customers are still concerned about high freight rates, there was some interest in the new product, which is expected to hit retail as early as late summer.
“The mood was excellent, and customer visits exceeded expectations,” said Neill Robinson, president and CEO, noting that the company saw 43 accounts over several days. “As we continue to actively attract more customers and new Top 100 customers, I think our premarket numbers will continue to grow. It is still important and probably more important than it’s ever been. A lot of our relationships with major accounts is project based and this is the time to come in and review new samples, hand out new projects and tie up existing ones.”