Exhibitors optimistic about market in spite of inflation and supply chain woes

Regis Waleko from Rumrunner Home in Southampton, NY chats with Tiffany Cymrot of Four Hands on the Friday before Market. Four Hands said many buyers are looking for more authentic and natural materials when it comes to woods, metals, and textiles.

Exhibitors at the High Point Market are optimistic about a good turnout at this week’s event.

“We are expecting a pent-up desire from people in the industry who want to attend this Market and see new products in person,” said Josh Jarboe, Four Hands vice president of sales. “We think there will be a good turnout. Attendees also want to see their industry friends and we are eager to see our customers. For many, it will be the first time they’ve been to the Market since before the pandemic.”

Although the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the current inflation rate at 7.9%, several exhibitors at the Market said they didn’t think that will affect what has been an overwhelming demand for all things home related.

“I don’t think the effect from inflation will drastically reduce the desire to buy new items for the home,” said Sam Millington, Mercana senior director of sales.

Other exhibitors agree that consumers are still purchasing and wanting to upgrade their homes.

“I do think however, that we may have a slight softening as things open back up and people begin to travel more and get out more,” said Mark Abrams, Port 68 vice president of design & marketing. “I think retail is going to consistently change along with its traffic patterns. Retailers will continue to improve, especially those who have other platforms to sell through other than customers walking through the door.”

James Bonomo, Regina Andrew’s chief operation officer agrees.

“I think when it comes to inflation, it really depends on where the consumer is in their buying journey,” he said. “People are entertaining more and need new furnishings and they are also buying vacation homes that need to be furnished. Plus, we are finding that people are freshening up their homes with new items. They are looking for unique pieces to add visual interest to their living environment.”

The supply chain issues that have been plaguing the industry for more than year now are starting to smooth out, but there are still snags.

Millington from Mercana said the first question he is always asked is about what inventory is available, adding that the company is lucky in that they have warehouses in both Vancouver, British Columbia and in Virginia. “We never pulled back on ordering during the pandemic, so we continue to have healthy levels of inventory,” he said.

For Abrams at Port 68, it’s a trickle-down issue in that containers continue to be delayed. “It’s hard to guarantee any dates. Currently its 60-90 days, some containers took two months to process in the ports in L.A. – you really have no control. Even airfreight is so backed up. But I do think the congestion will eventually improve.”

Neal Edwards, Worlds Away executive creative director, said that in his experience retailers are stocking products now and are coming back in and ordering additional back-up items so customers can walk away with purchases and don’t have to wait on delays.

“Our factories are all over the world, not just in China. Product is back to pace; the problem is getting it here. Lots of container congestion, so things are backed up,” said Edwards. “Demand is there, interest rates are still low, and investors are still buying properties, which all makes business flourish.”

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