State of Flux

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, June 20, 2005

Looking over the news reports from the past weeks, it would seem that the home furnishings business at retail is in a huge state of flux.

From top to bottom in size, bargain basement to better in terms of price points, there is a great deal of instability in the air.

There are but a few among the many at retail who seem to be happy with their home business in general, home textiles in particular.

In the tiny winners column, there's Anna's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale's, Lowe's, JCPenney and Restoration Hardware.

But there are more than a lot of retailers whose home businesses need a good shot in the arm.

We can start with numero uno — the Bentonville behemoth, Wal-Mart, which despite all its efforts cannot accept that its customer base is one thing and not another — and address their needs without chasing Target as a cheap-chic fashion mave.

As for Target, despite all its leadership qualities in marketing and product, management admits its home business is not up to snuff.

Then we have Federated with its new Macy's Home Store configuration still waiting to kick in with positive results — not expected until fall according to CEO Terry Lundgren's early on projections.

And Sears and Kmart under the Sears Holdings configuration are basically starting from scratch with new teams in, or about to be, in place.

HomeGoods, TJX' home furnishings division that had been on a roll for some time, has hit a bump in the road. And Linens 'n Things is looking for major positive results from product transitions. Kohl's still is working through the malaise that impacted the total store as well as specific home textiles challenges.

Even looking at the mass merchants, folks like Big Lots with a brand new senior management, and Family Dollar are searching for terra firma in home.

But perhaps, more than a shot in the arm, each company needs to stop looking over its shoulders at what the other guy is doing. And now, maybe it is time for an analysis of the “fashion approach” of in-and-out merchandising on overall home business.

Featured Video

  • The Countdown to the ICON Honors Continues featuring Christophe Pourny

    Camera Icon More Videos