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Backlog Nightmare

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, December 20, 2004

Looking toward 2005, the world of commerce is definitely going to be going through a major change. Home textiles folks think the changes are specific to them, but they ain't.

So much is going to be out of the control of the home textiles mavens because they are national or global issues.

The hand-wringing that has been escalating over recent months concerning the elimination of quotas could well be just the tip of the iceberg vis-a-vis the global marketplace.

The lifting of quotas is causing many to think “Chicken Little the sky is falling,” but the world will continue — and those who didn't put the subject on the back burner lo this amount of time already have plans in place.

More interesting is the situation that has emerged about embargoes where the offshore goods are ready to ship or on ships ready to move towards the United States and are not going to be allowed on these shores because the quotas already have been filled. The backlog nightmare for 2005 could well impact every retailer in this country.

Stuff that is planned for early '05 retail promotions is potentially going to be bouncing on the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Or if it makes it to land, it will be sitting and molting in some bonded warehouse.

There rises another question or challenge. How much warehousing space do we have for this type of congestion? The shipping companies want their containers back, the folks expecting the stuff want it now, and the government apparently is putting up a roadblock.

Then there is the upcoming flammability regulation issue that definitely involves home textiles. It's a California versus the United States scenario that few in this business seem to take seriously. It's serious, folks. It will be with us probably in 12 months and few are active participants in helping devise the rules and process.

And moving along the buzzword “branding” and “differentiation” pathways, there are sure to be some new elements to make these concepts change more than a number of times in the next year.

It should be an interesting year.

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