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Up And Down

This week's column brings both good news and not so good news.

First, on the positive side, the reports from the design mavens at the leading fabrics suppliers showing at Showtime in High Point, N.C. this week reflect a positive stance concerning the product introductions that are being offered.

There seems to be a major breath of fresh air wafting across the entire market place at Showtime.

Last Showtime, we saw a dramatic shift in the color palette to light and lively shades and away from the dull and dreary browns. And remarkably, this was translated onto many showroom floors during the October furniture market, and lesser so to the showrooms at the New York Home Fashions Market.

But while the transformation was not universal in the world of home textiles, it was truly evident. And as part of the transition, fabric suppliers were reporting renewed interest in prints.

Hopefully, this week the members of the home textiles world shopping Showtime will recognize the dramatic change taking place in their world and respond to it.

The key is not so much "something different" without validity, but more significantly, the need to offer fresh, clean and lighter looks that will attract customers with newness but not radical change.

On the other side of the news arena, anyone betting on a quick retail recovery better look at the November comps for retail. Granted the Big Kahuna — aka Walmart — doesn't report monthly, but the others do, and the results are not encouraging.

While mainstream department store retailers like Bon-Ton, JCPenney, Kohl's, Macy's, had comp losses, they showed major improvement over the sales debacle of 2008.

But taking those numbers and butting them up against October 2009, all but Kohl's had larger comp declines in November than the month earlier — and this with a month-long Black Friday promotional event.

Even in the mass merchant category, everyone — BJ's, Costco, Ross, Stein Mart, Target, and TJX — had lower performances in November, even with all but Stein Mart and Target reporting gains, than their October comp results.

It's obviously not time to rejoice but to plan how to get more customers in stores generally, and specifically in to buy home textiles.

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