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Dec pillow customers trading up

New York - Dec pillow manufacturers told HTT that while consumers remain cautious about larger purchases they're actually trading up in price on fashion pillows.

For Brentwood Originals, that made September the best month for sales since August 2008, according to Loren Sweet, president.

"People are willing to buy a $15 or $20 dec pillow because it's a new look but still cheaper compared to new drapes or a new sofa or painting the house," he said.

Channels ranging from discounters to department stores are testing and then committing to better goods at higher tickets - and selling them.

Joy Stewart, president of Spencer Enterprises Ind. confirmed trade up "is definitely happening, and happening at every level of retail, from close-outs to higher-end people."

While the 2008 recession knocked price brackets down to the $14.99 and $19.99 levels for fashion product, "we've started seeing success again at $24.99 and $29.99 as well. Everyone is trading up, increasing by about $2 to $5, depending on the retailer and where you work," he said.

David Frankel, president of Arlee Home Fashions, said retailers that favor an ever-changing mix of product "are looking to add more pattern and print in a less embellished way. ‘Safer' patterns, mainly in chenille, give the consumers pops of color while not being too design-specific."

Prints are back after a hiatus of more than a decade, noted Neil Zuber, evp of HFI. "I remember 15 years ago you couldn't give them away. But now, prints are making a big revival."

Corey Faul, president of Newport/Layton Home Fashions, concurred, adding: "You can certainly make more impact with pattern and print than you can with wovens."

Manual Woodworkers and Weavers (MWW) is seeing a different kind of trend emerging in its product sales.

Saverio Barbiere, vp of sales and marketing, said its shopper is bent on Made-In-America goods, which explains the company's bump up in sales of its new "ClimaWeave" all-weather indoor/outdoor pillows.

In the juvenile, tween and teen market segments, faux fur is the big draw.

Roy Brunton, owner and president of Brunton International, said faux fur looks make up most of his sales, interpreted in a core palette of six bright colors -- hot pink, aqua, lime, yellow, orange, and purple - with one recent "hot" addition: "Black. It's become very strong now for us, too," he said.

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