follow us

The Thread

Jennifer Marks
Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Marks shares news and views from around the home textiles marketplace.
  • 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
  • Talking Points

    It’s go time. The showrooms are set. The sales sheets have been distributed. The appointment schedules mapped out. There’s a lot to see and talk about at this week’s New York Home Fashions Market. Based on previews and pre-market conversations, here’s what to keep an eye on. Better qualities. In just about every product category and regardless of pricing tier, qualities are improving. This isn’t just about lower cotton prices. (Although cotton prices have settled down, labor and freight costs have been climbing.) Microfiber constructions are better, too – getting heavier, lending fabrics a cottony hand ... Read More
  • Lucky Seven

    Snow-maggedon. Port strikes. Is there anybody who isn’t happy to have February behind us? But life goes on. There’s been a lot of interesting news coming out of major retailers lately. In case you missed any of it, here are my crib notes on Seven Things You Ought to Know. Ten million. That’s how many home shoppers JCPenney estimates it lost after it phased out catalogs in 2009 and 2010. In the pursuit of omnichannel nirvana, the retailer is getting back into paper. The new 120-page home mailer dropping in early March is designed to spur sales ... Read More
  • Countdown

    New York Home Fashions Market officially gets underway five weeks from today. Recent talks with suppliers gearing up for market week have been hitting three themes. The West Coast port delays are hurting some suppliers and direct-import retailers more than others. Suppliers who take most of their deliveries on the West Coast have been scrambling to meet their obligations – at the very least making sure enough goods make it to stores to support advertising programs. Suppliers who take most of their deliveries on the East Coast are worried that shipments diverted from the West Coast are going to start slowing ... Read More
  • Away we go

    The year 2015 is just a few weeks old, but you’ve likely been to at least one trade show already. Depending upon what part of the business you’re in, you may have been to three or four by now. And more are on the way, the big ones for home textiles being NY Now this month and New York Home Fashions Market next month. Between talking to suppliers about their show preparations, sorting through new product photogarphs, walking the halls at Heimtextil in Frankfurt recently and just absorbing what’s in the wind about trends in home, here ... Read More
  • Reality Check

    In case anybody was wondering, The Big Three textiles producing countries maintain their ownership of the biggest chunks of key category goods imported into the U.S. I bring this up because the industry will soon be headed to Heimtextil, where the subject of emerging new sources of production always seems to rear its head. This is borne out by the most recent data from OTEXA – the U.S. Commerce Department’s Office of Textile and Apparel – which records imports year-to-date as of October. China, India and Pakistan collectively provided 87% of the cotton sheets imported into the U.S ... Read More
  • Put a fork in it

    In a few rapidly passing days, we will bid adieu to 2014. Before we do, a look at some of the most significant events impacting the retail environment this year. Changes at the top: The year saw a heightened amount of C-suite activity, including the installation of new ceos at Target, Walmart U.S., Walmart Canada, Home Depot, Bon-Ton, Hayneedle, One Kings Lane and Gordmans — not to mention the arrival of a successor to take over next year from outgoing JCPenney ceo Mike Ullman. There was a fair amount of shuffling at the presidential level as well, with new appointees ... Read More
  • Holiday 2014’s Big Test

    There’s something happening this year that could redefine the holiday shopping experience. It’s not whether stores do or don’t open their doors on Thanksgiving, which of them will or won’t match prices or who wraps up the season with the cleanest inventories. This is the year of The Omni-Channel Holiday – the first time a considerable number of major players have invested in creating a seamless shopping experience across online, mobile and bricks. One of the big keys to the season’s efforts is the buy online/pick-up in store initiative. It not only addresses the dreaded ... Read More
  • No mercy

    There are two ways of getting into political office —by winning or by winning ugly. It already looks like whoever emerges from the fourth quarter with the biggest top line growth will have climbed to the top of the heap by winning ugly. An astonishing number of forecasters are projecting a decent holiday season. The National Retail Federation, the International Council of Shopping Centers and Deloitte all believe the total sales gain ring up at 4.0% higher than 2013 or slightly above. (So far, Price Waterhouse Coopers is the lone pessimist, forecasting a 6.9% slump.) To get there ... Read More