Moving ahead

Carole Sloan, September 24, 2001

Before the horrific events in New York and Washington took place, it was clear that the economic situation was influencing the energy of new product introductions for the October home textiles market.

Following the fall shows in Europe, including Decosit in Brussels, Macef in Milan and the Florence Gift Show, it is clear that the sagging global economy obviously has influenced the energy of product development and innovation.

Premarket in High Point, NC, for the furniture industry, aborted as it was because of the attacks on the United States, also reflected this product direction.

There is a definite slowdown in product innovation and an increase in price sensitivity across many product areas because of the economy — not just home textiles — for those mainstream products and price points.

Maison & Objet in Paris earlier this month was one of the few exceptions. But with its tilt toward the upper end of the market, and the crafts element that combines to make this show one of the home products innovators, it was logical that Maison & Objet emerged somewhat different from its counterparts in other venues.

In looking ahead to next month's home textiles market, there is a dichotomy in the home textiles world that pits those who are treading water against those who will be offering focused, innovative products and programs designed to overcome the economy and more. The new dark cloud in this country and around the world is creating another layer of controversy — those who believe that everyone should withdraw from product introductions vs. those who believe that we should move ahead, albeit with caution and concern.

It's not a matter of saying that things are the same as they've always as been — they're not. But pulling back is not the answer.

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