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The Business of Home

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, September 4, 2010

AS THE REPORTS FROM the major players at retail emerged in the last week, it appears that home was hardly a standout in building the generally positive but not awesome stats.
     There seems to be a major chasm in the mind-set of top level retail management regarding their home business. We all know that home textiles, especially, has been considered a key traffic builder for retailers, no matter their economic strata.
     But virtually everything in this home textiles world has disintegrated to a lowest of the low promotional level that formerly was the prevue of the so-called bottom feeders. Today, it's virtually impossible to segregate the bottom feeders from what had been viewed in the marketplace as retailers hoping to project a new product image, perhaps a fashion-forward image as well as a highly focused promotional (aka - lower than low price point) message to customers
"We all know that home textiles, especially, has been considered a key traffic builder for retailers, no matter their economic strata."
     Today, the retailing community doesn't even comment on why this product or that is appropriate for the price- down event. Instead we get an image of a bed, a stack of towels or a pillow duo, with an urgent message "save $XX until XX." It there are a great number of customers apparently ignoring or - ever worse - not understanding the value of a 12-piece bed set versus a seven-piece bed set with a disparate pricing range and no explanation about any of the elements involved.
     Talking with suppliers about September kick-off plans for both major players and some in the so-called second tier, it doesn't look like things will be changing dramatically or soon.
     And one hears the big guys talking about their exploits into the new social media arena. But is there ever a comment about the opportunities in home textiles - perhaps the easiest of the myriad home products out there -furniture, rugs, tabletop, accessories, and miscellanea -to entice a younger customer? Seems not.
     There's a lot of good stuff out there being developed by suppliers, large and mid-size -but many are finding few retailers interested for a plethora of reasons - from ego to financial to logistical. And in the world of home textiles 2011, those three will be the key determinants of how business is done.

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