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Jennifer Marks

Maximizing the Market

So much for that Monday-through-Friday market week idea.

The fall New York Home Fashions Market technically begins next Monday, Sept. 15. But some off-price buyers are coming in this week to scoop up bargains ahead of the pack. JCPenney, owing to a scheduling conflict, is coming in this week and heading home at some point over the weekend. Wal-Mart is sending a group around to showrooms the week after market.

A lot of people would point out that "market," in the sense of showing new product to potential customers is a never-ending proposition. And as product developers seek out new avenues for their goods — whether in the specialty home furnishings market, the hospitality sector or the furniture channel — they find their trade show roster expanding rather than contracting.

Several home textiles exhibitors at the recent New York International Gift Fair/New York Home Textiles Market Week at Javits said it was one of the busiest traditional U.S. trade shows for the independent sector this year. Many felt that was because retailers had kept their inventories so tight all year, the time had come when they had no choice but to start writing orders. (That view was shared by gift suppliers as well, according to our colleagues at Gifts & Decorative Accessories, a sister publication.)

Now comes the market week for volume retailers. Suppliers are mustering a roster of new brand licenses, eco-friendly items and performance products to inject some excitement into what is a fairly challenged segment of retail — unless the big box in question also sells food and sundries. Home remains a lagging department for most retailers. During the recent spate of quarterly conference calls with Wall Street analysts, retailers remained uniformly cautious, most seeing the economic malaise continuing into the new year.

Tight inventories and speed-to-market rule the day. I've no doubt we'll see some smart fashion on showroom floors next week. I'm more reluctant to bet how much of it will make its way out into the real world. But we can always hope.

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Home Accents Today
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