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A New Day

After this marathon run of umpty-dump number of markets in less than six weeks, there seems to be almost a sense of euphoria among folks in retailing in general and suppliers and retailers in home textiles in particular.

No — Chicken Little, the sky didn't fall in — it almost did, but we escaped that horror story. On the other hand, things are not bright and beautiful — they're just a helluva lot better than they were at this time a year ago.

There are a whole lot of store shelves that need to be filled. There's a huge supplier community that is seeing domestic business surge despite the cost increases for products — and that's impacting global buying and selling. And there's a jittery consumer base that really wants to get out and buy, but also sees the caution buttons ahead.

What we're beginning to see is more of an analysis of what needs to be in store versus what had been the sky's the limit of the past decade or so. Stores today can't handle the super fluff because their customers don't want the super fluff.

But more and more over the past weeks we've heard suppliers talk about how better goods, good looking stuff, and items priced right but not cheap are the catch phrases of this year.

The key word seems to be “strategic” — suppliers and retailers alike are using the word to describe how they are looking at their plans, purchases and marketing for this year and beyond.

Whether this now will become the buzz word of the year — or whether there will be those that actually look at their businesses strategically versus the way it had been done — will come out as the year progresses.

The inventory scarcity cannot be filled up with the same old, same old stuff that got us to this predicament in the first place. All sides of the buying/selling equation have to realize that creativity, reason for being — and yes, eco values are coming into play more and more — and they all will have to do more than mouth the mantras.

The new consumer — no matter what the age bracket — has too many ways to get product information, communicate about product specifics and make decisions that are totally out of the realm of how we did business in the past.

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