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Stating the facts

Now that we have officially entered the season of good deed doing, I'd like you to consider performing an act of fellowship.

We regularly receive requests for industry statistics, usually pertaining to specific product categories. The good news is that HTT each year puts together a series of reports on just that type of thing. But here's the hitch: As an industry, you've got to give numbers to get numbers. They don't materialize out of the ether.

HTT is currently preparing for its 2001 series of reports on bedding, bath products, rugs, window coverings, table linens and kitchen textiles. Each report defines a category's total sales as well as sales by retail channel.

The report also tracks shifts in merchandise mix within the category-examining in the window coverings area, for example, how sales of pinch-pleat draperies are faring vs. sales of blousson valances. And, depending upon the category, the report examines the proportion of product that is sourced vs. domestically manufactured, follows shifts in the types of construction being used for various goods and notes packaging trends such as the sales ratio of bed-in-the-bag vs. open stock.

The work on these reports begins with the mailing of a questionnaire to a host of manufacturing companies involved with each category. This is the make-or-break aspect of the survey, for the results are only as good as the extent to which your company and your brethren in the industry are willing to participate.

The questionnaire consists of a single page, and information from the questionnaires is compiled not in HTT's editorial offices in New York but in our company's research department in Greensboro, NC. This is done to safeguard the confidentiality of the participating companies.

Yadda, yadda, yadda-why should you care? I'll give you one big reason: because in an industry that is in the throes of enormous change, benchmarks are critical.

And frankly, can you think of a single company that is simply bopping along, pursuing the status quo?

Because a number of bedding manufacturers are attempting to push into better-quality, higher price point luxury goods. And if you're among them, it might be worth knowing whether your company's program is on track with the industry or falling behind.

Because the buying and selling of different subsidiary businesses among the larger manufacturers will surely alter the complexion of the domestic trade.

Because heavy-duty licensing agreements among manufacturers are extending key bedding brand names into window, key mattress brand names into basic bedding and key fabric brand names into finished home textiles.

In an industry that is generally starved for numbers, The Facts series establishes some parameters and measures the degree to which change is taking place across-and within-the core home textiles product categories.

More importantly, it's the sort of statistical guide an embattled domestic industry can use to help itself. Every now and then, it's a good idea to poke your head out of your own silo and take a look around the rest of the barnyard.

I'm going on about all of this because HTT is in the process of revamping the survey to more accurately reflect the realities of today's market place. I'm also making a point of talking about the importance of the survey because in times of flux, it's more important than ever to take part in something that ultimately benefits the whole textiles community.

The first survey mailings will go out in the next few weeks. Please take a few minutes to fill out the one that arrives in your mail, or to pass it along to the appropriate colleague. Your participation will help make the survey more valuable for every company in the industry-including yours.

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