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The Thread

Jennifer Marks
Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Marks shares news and views from around the home textiles marketplace.
  • There’s more than meets the eye

    To every supplier who has ever uttered the words “I have six of the major accounts, so I’m all set,” here is a headline that ought to make your hair stand on end: “Target to end ties with Cherokee apparel brand in 2017.” That 2017 date is significant. It marks the 20th anniversary of the brand’s alliance with Target, one the retailer will celebrate by flushing Cherokee out of its assortment. Cherokee is a $1 billion brand for Target. And Target represents about 43% of Cherokee’s sales. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a cautionary tale. We’re ... Read More
  • Another mixed bag

      The slowly rising economic tide is not lifting all boats, at least not among the key retailers of home textiles. As merchants will shortly be headed into New York showrooms for the September market, here’s a run-down on how their companies are doing. Big Lots: Promoted coo Lisa Bachmann to chief merchant as it preps to launch ecomm next year. In-store, improved qualities and harmonized palettes are driving gains in soft home. Said ceo David Campesi: “We don’t buy ugly anymore.” Outlook: Boosted full-year guidance. Burlington: Home showed improvement and is a category being targeted for growth. Company ... Read More
  • The 70%

    I was talking about consumer trends last week with the president of WSL Strategic Retail, Candace Corlett, when she laid a surprising statistic on me. Here it is: 70% of U.S. households today are adult-only. Who knew? Those households are made up of aging Boomers, unmarried Millennial couples and roommate groups, singles (some of them divorced) and couples who have so far put off having children, Corlett told me. “It has changed the composition of society,” she said. There’s also a caveat. Overall, there is a greater number of households with children than there was 40 years ago ... Read More
  • Behind the Numbers

    One Saturday last spring, I was standing in line at a check-out counter in the Macy’s women’s department at my local mall. As the wait went on, I took a sweater out of my little bundle and put it back on the display table. The woman in line behind me said: “That’s how it is when you have to wait — you start putting things back. Unless you’re at HomeGoods — then you start picking more things up!” That unsolicited endorsement came to mind when reviewing this year’s H&TT Retailing Giants report on the Top 50 ... Read More
  • Millennials: Four quick things to know

    I’m in the midst of assembling a PowerPoint presentation for the Home Textiles Sourcing Expo tomorrow, and I am awash in Millennial-related data. I feel compelled to share. Did you know that next year Millennials (born between 1980-2000) will officially become the largest consumer group in the U.S.? Conservatively, their 2015 spending will hit $600 million – although some estimates put the number as high as $1 trillion. Do you know how they break out by segment? Marketing agency Barkley USA recently identified six distinct groups: Hip-ennial, Millennial Mom, Anti-Millennial, Gadget Guru, Clean and Green Millennial, and Old-School Millennial ... Read More
  • Retail Lab

    We have entered a new age of experimentation at retail, with an assortment of prototypes and new concepts opening in the coming months. You can take it as a sign retailers are feeling comfortable enough with the economy to begin testing new formulas. Or you could consider it an attempt by decades-old retailers to come up with something new. Bed Bath & Beyond: The Chelsea store in Manhattan is constantly in flux, but the big new thing opening there this month is a World Market home furnishings shop. Know what’s even bigger and potentially cooler? The 100,000-sq.-ft. store ... Read More
  • While you’re in town…

    Between the Texworld/Home Sourcing Expo, NY Now and the New York Home Fashions Market, there will a lot of home textiles folks in New York over the next three months. Aside from all the new products, there’s plenty that’s new and worth carving out time for on the retail front. Here are four that should be at the top of your must-visit list. Bed Bath & Beyond’s flagship Manhattan store on 6th Avenue at 18th Street. Check out the new World Market shop-in-shop, which is set to open in July. This is separate from the World Market ... Read More
  • Top to Bottom

    The recent raft of first-quarter financial reports brought mostly encouraging news about the performance of home departments at major retailers. In order of optimism, here’s the rundown: Anthropologie is barreling ahead with its expansion of home merchandise, and the broad category posted a double-digit comp increase. The nameplate, a division of Urban Outfitters Inc., has been building home inventory in conjunction with a dedicated home catalog strategy. The first dropped last spring and the second was issued last month. The wedding registry Anthropologie launched late last year is serving as an important feeder into home — with over 40% of ... Read More
  • The Last Mile

    It is the great cost-adder in online retailing – the price of delivering that one package from the distribution center to the customer’s front door. The order online/pick-up in store model being embraced by so many retailers is designed in part to get around that hurdle – but it’s creating some new problems of its own. On the upside, ecommerce allows retailers to offer far more product options online than they can within the confines of a physical location. But what happens when the consumer dumps that online purchase back at the customer service counter at her local store ... Read More
  • Erasure

    This is what the denouement looks like. At the Sears store in the Freehold Raceway Mall in New Jersey, the parking lot level floor was almost entirely denuded of merchandise. Huge chunks of space sat idle behind blue partitions. The barriers concealed pallets bearing unwrapped fixtures and stacks of unopened boxes of indeterminate provenance. There was a handsome and sizable run of fresh shelving in place for a shoe department. It was as-yet unstocked and it will not be filled with Sears products. Signs near the entry points read: “Pardon our dust,” and “We’re open to serve you during ... Read More
  • Keeping Up With The

    A word to the supplier community. Does your operation have an e-commerce team? Do you at least have an e-comm person? You should know that a growing number of your competitors do. The larger U.S. rug manufacturers were the first to jump on the strategy – and that was a good couple of years ago. What surprised at New York Home Fashions Market last month was the extent to which importers in other home textiles categories are restructuring internally to address online business. I wouldn’t say it’s a wave, but it’s definitely building. The most bare-bones effort ... Read More
  • The Bachelorette

    Here comes the bride – the most highly prized consumer in the home furnishings retail space right now. You want to gauge the state of competition in the War for Millennials, keep an eye on how retailers are enhancing, marketing and leveraging their bridal registries. Anthropologie launched one last fall as part of its concerted push into home. Apparently, it’s working. During the fourth quarter, 40% of the registry purchasers were first-time Anthropologie customers. (To kick-start the effort, the lifestyle retailer began rolling out bridal apparel shops last spring. Smart move.) Bed Bath & Beyond is spiffing up its registry technology ... Read More