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Cecile Corral

Shoppers Turned to Fashion Kitchen, Table Linens in 2011

NEW YORK - In 2011, shoppers said good night to ivory, white, black, navy, and beige.
     After a long, recession induced period of buying safe and predictable palettes, they spent last year on the lookout for lively colors and patterns - for everyday use, not just the seasons.
     "When the times are tough, to get excitement into their stores retailers turn to fashion to [stir] impulse purchases. And we definitely saw increases [last year] in fashion and prints for kitchen and table," said Bryan Siegel, chairman and ceo, New York based Elrene Home Fashions. "[Fashion and prints] definitely crept up a few percentage points, taking away from the solid portion of this business."
     It was clear from the start that some of the eye-catching options for kitchen textiles, table linens and, increasingly, aprons came at a somewhat higher cost.
     But ripe for change, shoppers were not deterred.
     "A direction we have been seeing is that people would rather spend a little more money on something that they really love versus a basic," noted Abe Haddad, president and owner of New York-based Homewear Linens. "They are looking for more fashion, quality and value and are willing to spend a little more for it, but they expect a little more back."
     He explained that the trend, which emerged last year, still holds for both kitchen and table linen products across the board.
     Furthermore, added Anchor Home Products president and owner Frank Petronzio, "people were moiré willing to spend on full coordinate programs."
     By that, he means shoppers bought more matching components for a more complete decor story in their kitchens and dining rooms - "from window [tiers and curtains] to chair pads to place mats to even decorative pillows. People were looking for full fashion coordinates for their homes."
     Aprons were also strong last year - and on an upswing in early 2012.
     "We see the aprons category as expanding. The stores are giving it more attention, displaying more products earlier in the season and enlarging their selections," Haddad said. "The direction they are going is toward more fashion forward, embellished novelty styles and presenting them as gift-able offerings."

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