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  • Cecile Corral

Eager buyers looking for deals at Rug market

Atlanta — With the area rug industry optimistic for the new year, buyers are headed to Atlanta International Area Rug market this week in the mood to shop, although none intend to break the bank.

After a fourth quarter of lean inventories, merchants plan to restock judiciously with specific looks, mainly transitional and contemporary. Retailers are looking for smart price points and, more importantly, are looking to snap them up on a budget.

"We are expecting a good spring season for area rugs, but at the same time we're not aggressively shopping this market," says Luis Sandoval, area rug buyer for Miami-based Macy's Burdines. "We're optimistic but still being somewhat conservative with our buying. We're looking for specific product to match the trends we are seeing in furniture."

Anne Poglitsch, buyer, soft flooring, for Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based The Great Indoors will be in Atlanta looking for "the latest and greatest in area rugs." She said that dominating sales in the category at The Great Indoors lately are casual and transitional looks in pastel and earth tones, as well as rounds, ovals and other shaped rugs.

But Poglitsch, like many of her peers, will be keeping her value-conscious consumer in mind when she shops.

"My customer doesn't want to invest as heavily on a rug as she might have in the past," she said. "She is changing her mind more rapidly these days with her home décor and is looking for a quick fix that she can afford."

Macy's Rich's Lazarus Goldsmith's in Atlanta has seen a similar trend with its contemporary and transitional lines, "which were very successful for us this fall," said Keith Arlinghaus, buyer, floor coverings. The store has already set up a large display occupying a major portion of its area rug selling space to this trend.

To keep that momentum going, the chain is shopping in Atlanta for complementary product that can be sold at retail for $499 or less.

"We're looking to enhance the line, but this time with more middle price point," Arlinghaus continued. "We'd also like to hit that $249 to $299 price point for hand-tufted and machine-made rugs. The customer looks not for construction but for color and look at the right price."

Sister store Miami-based Macy's Burdines will also attend the Atlanta show in search of contemporary and transitional looks.

"We are expecting a good spring season for area rugs, but at the same time we're not aggressively shopping this market," said Luis Sandoval, area rug buyer. "We're optimistic but still being somewhat conservative with our buying"

Accent sizes are also gaining momentum, merchants noted. Chain retailers are pursuing 2' x 3' and 3' x 5' accent rugs. Suppliers are goosing the trend through coordinate programs that pair the smaller sizes with other products like decorative pillows and throws. As such suppliers expand their category offerings to become more total resources to their customers, some buyers are forsaking the Atlanta market to make the New York Home Textiles Market their rug shopping destination.

"This year we're reconfiguring our plan, and we'll be focusing more on the New York textiles show," Gary Nickolie, a buyer at Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Kohl's. "I already go to that show and see a lot of the same people I see in Atlanta."

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