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High Point Market Authority Publishes Business Forecast

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The High Point Market Authority has published an in-depth, Business Outlook report for home furnishings industry professionals focused on driving business in a challenging economic environment. The report is available now for download at the High Point Market website, www.highpointmarket.org. “The High Point Market website is a tremendous information source for the entire industry,” says Brian D. Casey, president and chief executive officer of the High Point Market Authority, “and the new Business Outlook is just one of the many great tools we offer on the site. Retailers, manufacturers, designers and suppliers, as well as members of the media, need only supply us with their email address to access a wealth of business and trend forecast reports, as well as our bi-weekly e-news issues which feature video coverage of new product and style directions and thought-provoking interviews with some of the best minds in the business. We’ve designed the site to be a year-round resource for home furnishings professionals seeking to move their businesses ahead.” Although there may be little that can be done to speed the economy’s recovery, Casey says the new Business Outlook focuses on strategies that are working well now and driving business at stores across the country. In preparing the report, the Market Authority team sifted through economic data and consulted with leading retailers who are bucking the current trends, along with manufacturers and industry experts in a variety of fields to explore their strategies for success. “In the process, we uncovered some specific strategies that we believe will both inform and assist executives as they navigate uncertain times,” says Brian D. Casey, president and chief executive officer of the High Point Market Authority, official sponsor of the High Point Market: The World’s Home for Home Furnishings. “Our intent in producing the Business Outlook is to stimulate thinking and help our constituents prepare for the upcoming Fall Market, October 20 to 26, 2008. We hope readers find this report inspiring and helpful as they consider their line of attack for the remainder of this year and beyond.” According to the new report, at Worcester, Mass.-based Rotman’s, the most effective promotions this summer have been “dollar-off deals,” says store manager Joe Quintal, “such as offering a $100 gift card on purchases over $599.” Bargain-conscious shoppers have also been responding to Rotman’s 32-page circular—mailed to targeted consumers and inserted into the local paper. “It gives us the space to tell a full story, and can be themed in a way that allows each one to both stand on its own and fit nicely into our overall promotional plan,” Quintal notes. “For example, we’ll follow up our Double Tax Free Weekend with a special Off-Season Factory Buys theme, to maintain the price-driven momentum of the tax holiday. Then, we’ll move into our Anniversary Sale and close out the year with our holiday theme. The idea is to always keep it fresh and to tailor what you’re doing to your customers’ lifestyles.” “I think for the first time things are beyond our being able to go in and put a short-term quick fix on something,” says furniture retailer Bill Castleberry, of Castleberry’s Ethan Allen Home Interiors. “The days of a retailer being able to run three or four promotions and jumpstart the business appear to be gone. My take on this is our business, home furnishings, is a customer confidence-driven business. When you’re dealing with a business that is driven primarily by wants and not needs, you have to look at your business differently, I believe, for the long term.” “I think you have to be creative,” agrees Stefanie Lucas, president and chief executive of Rowe Fine Furniture. “You have to tap into the mindset of the consumer and what’s going to make her buy.” “I think you’re going to see a lot more focus on the home as a domain,” predicts Jim Dion, founder and president of Dionco, a Chicago retail consulting firm. “Retailers and manufacturers alike should take this opportunity to promote home furnishings as an investment in home, family and happiness.” Dion and others believe that continued success is within the industry’s grasp, and that lean, efficient businesses that are focused on costs and customers should not only survive the current economy, but be better for it. Companies that come out the other side will be more design and service-focused, and they’ll be paying more attention to what their customers want from their homes and furnishings. “For companies looking to diversify their product mix, the High Point Market offers merchandise in every imaginable home furnishings category, from accents and accessories, to case goods, upholstery, patio and hearth, home office, home theater and more,” Casey points out. “High Point is literally a one-stop shop for the furniture retailer who wants to make sure he or she has the right products on the selling floor. Nowhere else will you find such a broad selection of home furnishings, appealing to every design aesthetic, available at every price point.” Noting the importance of High Point’s comprehensive and on-trend product selection, Rotman’s Joe Quintal adds, “You simply have to keep exciting products on your floor, and High Point is a critical destination in that search.” About the High Point Market Authority: The High Point Market Authority is the official sponsor of the High Point Market in High Point, North Carolina. Featuring an extensive selection of exhibitors spanning every category, style and price point and attracting tens of thousands of visitors from more than 110 countries twice each year, the High Point Market is the driving force of the home furnishings industry.

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