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Cecile Corral

Retailers: Wake me up, please!

March 20, 2009

I just wrapped up my coverage of New York Home Fashions Market last week, and much like HTT editor-in-chief Jennifer Marks noted in her blog, I saw that Anthropologie-esque looks abounded as the new fashion statement – and it was so refreshing. I loved to see this trend emerging.

But that design direction was the exception, not the rule. For as many estate-sale, vintage type looks of mix-and-match Bohemia-inspired patterns I saw, by far and large the push was "value" offerings in ho-hum looks and basic constructions that can sell at promotional price points.

No real surprise there.

And yet, still surprising. Isn’t anyone thinking outside the box anymore? Or are we to live in a world of red, blue, loden, and maize solid colors or stripes on every soft home product in our houses?

Snore.

Most retailers continue to report sagging sales for home products, but at the same time they’re not giving their customers any real reasons to shop. At a time when they should be inspiring and encouraging shoppers to spend, most of them are instead taking the safe route, resulting in assortments that are ordinary, unoriginal and watered down - and worse than that, indistinguishable from the competitions’ merchandise mix.

I saw many suppliers attempting newness - especially in their color schemes. But because most of them know what will land an order, they made sure to color inside the lines, so to speak.

The question is - did the tactic work?

I was told by most of my contacts that retailers did not place any orders during market - not unusual. Our "Hits and Misses" report for March 23 issue of our newspaper will show what suppliers THINK retailers’ liked, and what they didn’t.

But it will still be several weeks before anyone finds our for sure the winners that will get actual shelf space at the stores.

I will say that my wallet is as tight as anybody’s right now. But with the winter ending and the spring about to bloom, I’m in the mood for something fresh to give my home some spark, some color. After all, I’m spending so much more time at home to avoid spending on outings that my eyes could use a new view - even a small one.

I just hope I’ll find something, somewhere, and soon.