In November 21, 1929, Furniture World published a photo of the most successful and esteemed furniture retailers of the time. The headline read, “We Are Facing a Very Bright Future in Our Industry; Present Conditions Are Better Than They Have Been For Many Years Heretofore.” Each of the retailers, in turn, wrote a few paragraphs predicting how “recent stock market fluctuations” would have a limited impact on the furniture industry.
Their forecast turned out to be somewhat accurate. The future was bright, but the prediction wouldn’t be realized until the mid-1940s. The point I’m trying to make is that nobody knows with certainty what will happen in 2024 or when we will return to rapid sales growth at furniture retail, but I’m optimistic. In this, the 3,614th edition of Furniture World—our annual forecast issue—furniture industry experts and well-known consultants share their observations and suggestions from the front lines of furniture and bedding retail.
Cervantes’s character, Don Quixote, said, “Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.” That’s good advice for 2024, and in line with recommendations you will find on the following pages from David McMahon, Tom Liddell, Andrew Kauffman, Gordon Hecht, Billy Lindler, and Kristen Moonjian.
Being forewarned and forearmed in 2024 is about planning for events that will, with near certainty, happen—for example, the election and its effect on advertising availability—as well as shocks that might occur—such as a United- or Klaussner-type event.
In this issue, you will find a recommendation to constantly monitor changes in business metrics on short cycles (weekly or even daily) so that necessary corrective actions can be taken to preserve cash flow and profitability. And to keep forearmed with market intelligence so competitive opportunities, changing customer moods, and emerging micro-trends can be leveraged.
PFP’s Tom Liddell spoke to 40 retailers to prepare for his interview with FW, which starts on page six. I didn’t include the following quote in that article, but I feel that it’s worth mentioning here. “I don’t want to seem completely pessimistic,” he said, “but one thing virtually every retailer shared with me is that consumers are becoming more and more difficult and demanding; they’re less patient, less friendly.” There will likely be plenty of reasons for people to be rushed and cranky in 2024, so you might prepare your people and processes to address that as well.
FS’ Kristen Moonjian notes in the “Home Shift 2024” article that “the home is becoming the center for well-being and human care. There is a growing emphasis on filling homes with purpose-filled items intended to make people feel good.“ I can’t think of any other industry as well prepared as ours to fulfill those customer needs. In 2024, perhaps that’s a message worth repeating.
Wishing you good retailing!
Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.