Home Furnishings Industry
One of the main beliefs of man has been that the environment in which they live are very important for their physical, emotional and moral results. In the very early stages, people were mainly concerned with the fundamental requirements of men in terms of food, shelter and clothing, but there have been realization of the importance of aesthetics over the last couple of a hundred years. It was this realization that led to the teaching of homemakers in the basic principles of art and design, so that the home became a better place to live through their informed purchases of practical and decorative items, and then placing them in a manner so that they radiated their beauty to all corners of the house. This is a common theme and some examples can be readily given. One of the changes was that simpler furnishings easier to maintain should replace that fine draperies as they would also look more attractive. (Applied Arts and Design)
The furnishings of a home differ from individual to individual, and it is interesting to consider the case of the White House in this regard. We are talking about a time which existed quite sometime back, in 1848 when Millard Fillmore became President of the United States after Zachary Taylor passed away on July 9, 1850 having been in office for only sixteen months as the President of United States. The Fillmore couple was surprised to find out when they moved to the White House that not a single book belonged to the house, though there had been books earlier in the Executive Mansion. The biggest share of books had been brought by Thomas Jefferson when he became the President, though the major part of his books was left at his house in Monticello. These books had been left in the White House even after he left it, but they did not lead to the development of a White House Library, and were not burnt down even when the British burnt the White House during the War of 1812, as they had been shifted to the Library of Congress and became its core. (The Heart of the Fillmore Presidency: Abigail Powers Fillmore and the White House Library)
Even there, on Christmas Eve of 1851, there was a fire, and this was also the period of Fillmore administration and two thirds of Jefferson’s books were lost, though even the President had tried his personal best to save them. After becoming the President, Fillmore tried to obtain books for the White House. This was due to his requirement of books for his cabinet meetings and he had used books for his education and thus the need was felt by him. After his efforts, Millard received on September 1, 1850 statements of the congressional documents that were given for the “Library of the President of the United States” as also their bill. While providing the material, George Templeman of the Library of Congress tried to provide for the library by sending a proposal that “as there may be some other books that the President may select it may be well to say that $2,500 will get a very useful reference Library for the President’s House.” (The Heart of the Fillmore Presidency: Abigail Powers Fillmore and the White House Library) This was a home furnishing of a different type, and the feelings were that of the President of United States. The concept of home furnishing differs from individual to individual, and nothing can be said about the choice of any individual as long as the choice makes the individual happy.
Looking at the total picture, it has been noted in the last study, the results of which were made public in December 2004, the purchase incidence has dropped by 15% on the 20 different categories of home goods that were considered. Here purchase incidence means the percentage of adult consumers who purchased specific home products during the twelve months prior to the survey. The average amounts spent also declined in 11 of the 20 categories, and this reflected the shoppers’ choice for purchase at discount stores, dollar stores, warehouse clubs and mass merchants for home furnishings. The 20 home furnishing products considered by the study reflected industry sales and growth estimates, as also the “purchase sources for aromatherapy and/or scented household products, such as potpourri, steamers or sprays; art, including original art or prints, lithographs, posters and other art reproductions; baskets, boxes, vases, pots and other decorative holders; candles and/or candle accessories, such as candle holders; decorations, such as Christmas and/or other seasonal decorations including party decorations; collectibles; figurines and sculptures.” (Today’s Home Furnishings Market is highly competitive – Competition is Getting Even More Intense as Shoppers Buy Fewer Home Furnishings, & Buy Them on Sale When They Do, Reports Unity Marketing) There were also “floral items and greenery, including dried flowers and wreaths, for indoor use; flowers, seeds, shrubs and trees for outdoor landscaping; furniture and occasional furniture, including mattresses and/or box springs, upholstered, case goods; garden equipment and decorative items for garden or patio; greeting cards and/or personal stationery” being included in the study. (Today’s Home Furnishings Market is highly competitive – Competition is Getting Even More Intense as Shoppers Buy Fewer Home Furnishings, & Buy Them on Sale When They Do, Reports Unity Marketing)
Further on “home textiles, including rugs, throws, pillows, table linens, bed linens, etc.; household storage systems, containers, and other storage solutions; kitchenware and accessories, such as cooking utensils, pots and pans, and other house wares; lamps and accent lighting; picture frames; tabletop china, crystal, silver and/or casual dinnerware, glassware, flatware, including serving ware, bowls, and centerpieces; wall decor, such as sconces, mirrors, shelves, and tapestries; and window coverings, blinds, curtains and other window treatments” were also part of the study. (Today’s Home Furnishings Market is highly competitive – Competition is Getting Even More Intense as Shoppers Buy Fewer Home Furnishings, & Buy Them on Sale When They Do, Reports Unity Marketing)
The presently popular lifestyle the customers buy is called cocooning and this style had become most popular in 1998. In that year, the typical household had spent $1,601 on home furnishings as per the information given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer expenditure Survey. Since that time, it has been falling continuously and the expenditure figures have reached to a level of $1,497 only on home furnishings in 2003. (Today’s Home Furnishings Market is highly competitive – Competition is Getting Even More Intense as Shoppers Buy Fewer Home Furnishings, & Buy Them on Sale When They Do, Reports Unity Marketing) Thus it is clear that fewer consumers are buying home furnishings and even when they are buying, they are spending less money on the material. It is thus essential that the retailers and marketing organizations for the products should review their marketing strategy so that their marketing and branding efforts are in line with what the consumers want. The impacts of the changes in the market demands are being felt as most of the major brands are sustaining sales declines. Pier 1 has announced a comparable store sales decline of 9.1% and all other important brands like Furniture Brands International, Broyhill, Lane, Thomasville, Henredon, and Drexel Heritage have all made cautionary statements for their shareholders. Thus, one can say that the immediate prospects of the industry are not bright. (Competition Gets More Intense as Shoppers Buy Home Furnishings Less Often, and on Sale)
This has brought new strategies for selling from important home furnishing companies and one of them, Ethan Allen Interiors, who are a leading manufacturer and retailer of quality home furnishings have designed a Wedding Registry to meet their customer needs. The organization has a range of 300 stores located in United States, Canada and Mexico, in addition to 18 international stores. The organization has 18 facilities for manufacturing and three sawmills in the country. According to a Roper Starch study done in 2000, 1 out of each of the 4 couples is registering for furniture. The reason as given in Modern Bride magazine is that the marriages are taking place later in the life of the couples, and also that marriages are taking place more than once. Thus the new registries for furniture for them are being adapted to match the requirements of such couples. With these changes, Ethan Allen has set up registries in every store where the interested couples can go with a design consultant to choose items that they require. Guests for the wedding can also see the registry and decide to make a gift of a piece of furniture through the store after seeing the registry or even buy a gift card for a fixed amount. The gift cards are being sold even on the Internet through www.ethanallen.com.(Ethan Allen Sees Trend in Wedding Registries towards Non-Traditional Items; Bridal Industry Sees Increase in Registries for Home Furnishings) This is clearly an attempt to meet the changed market demands especially in view of the fact that designs in fashion do not seem to last very long. At the same time, this has led to a search by customers for low priced material.
It is clear that every person is interested in stretching their investment in these matters as far as possible, and for this there are many methods. However for this to be done well, the concerned person has to spend a lot of time in searching for true items of value and not just buy any item that the person finds in the shop as ready purchases may be regretted later. Thus there has to be a lot of visits to different stores and proper judgment of the material that one intends to buy later. The places for such purchases are for interior design and most likely to be found in second hand furniture stores, seconds depots, and discount stores. If an individual goes around in a substantial number of these stores, then the person may be able to find suitable items of their choice. (Interior Design for Bargain Hunters)
The items may be not only furniture, but also of linens, accessories and similar items. The next best sets of places to collect these are flea markets, yard sales, auctions and estate sales. The nature of these places has changed and there are a lot of people in these areas apart from bargain hunters. They are also likely to contain a lot of obsolete and valuable items. However these places have been commercialized now and are being promoted as places to find great deals by bargain hunters, at costs lower than would be charged in a department store. The difficulty with such purchases most individuals do not think of the labor that is involved with the designs, as also the labor that would be involved to bring them up-to-date. These costs should also be considered when an item is bought. (Interior Design for Bargain Hunters)
Sometimes events also change the mood of the people and lead the people to purchase home furnishings and one of such occasions were the events of 9/11. This led many of the major groups to come out with special items and Rowe had on offer the America’s Ottoman and Pillow, with the statement ‘United We Stand’ stitched below the flag. Drexel Heritage unveiled upholstery to go with its new American Tempo collection, featuring fabrics in red, white, and blue with stripes, squares, and checks in a quilt-like pattern. Lee Industries was providing a child’s armchair with a blue denim seat having peppermint red-and-white stripes on the two sides. (Home furnishings with a patriotic motif) To conclude, it may be said that changes often take place when we least expect them to occur.
Applied Arts and Design. Retrieved at http://hearth.library.cornell.edu/h/hearth/applied.html. Accessed 26 October, 2005
Competition Gets More Intense as Shoppers Buy Home Furnishings Less Often, and on Sale.
December 14, 2004. Furniture World Magazine. Retrieved at http://www.furninfo.com/absolutenm/templates/News.asp?articleid=4617&z=8. Accessed 26 October, 2005
Ethan Allen Sees Trend in Wedding Registries Towards Non-Traditional Items; Bridal Industry
Sees Increase in Registries for Home Furnishings. Business Wire. 8 May 2002. Retrieved at http://www.highbeam.com/library/docfree.asp?DOCID=1G1:85521504&num=8&ctrlInfo=Round18%3AMode18c%3ASR%3AResult&ao=&FreePremium=FREE. Accessed 26 October, 2005
Home furnishings with a patriotic motif. USA Today (Magazine). 1 April 2002. Retrieved at http://www.highbeam.com/library/docfree.asp?DOCID=1G1:85370065&num=32&ctrlInfo=Round18%3AMode18c%3ASR%3AResult&ao=&FreePremium=FREEAccessed 26 October, 2005
Leake, Rosemary. Interior Design for Bargain Hunters. Retrieved at http://www.interiordecoratingsecrets.com/homedecorating/. Accessed 26 October, 2005
Thacker-Estrada, Elizabeth Lorelei. The Heart of the Fillmore Presidency: Abigail Powers
Fillmore and the White House Library. White House Studies. 1 January 2001. Retrieved at http://www.highbeam.com/library/docfree.asp?DOCID=1G1:80605884&num=5&ctrlInfo=Round18%3AMode18c%3ASR%3AResult&ao=&FreePremium=FREE. Accessed 26 October, 2005
Today’s Home Furnishings Market is highly competitive – Competition is Getting Even More
Intense as Shoppers Buy Fewer Home Furnishings, & Buy Them on Sale When They Do, Reports Unity Marketing. Business Wire. 14 December, 2004. Retrieved at http://www.highbeam.com/library/docfree.asp?DOCID=1G1:126116708&num=12&ctrlInfo=Round18%3AMode18c%3ASR%3AResult&ao=&FreePremium=FREEAccessed 26 October, 2005
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