HIGH POINT – There has been a lot of discussion at the recent High Point Market about what’s to come in 2023. Here’s what four industry leaders think of the mood and business at the Fall Fair.
See also: 3 first reactions to the autumn market from the furniture and decoration categories
David Gebhart, Global Views
According to Gebhart, buyers in the Global Views showroom saw “red”, but in the most positive way.
“We made a giant red statement that seemed to capture the imagination of every customer who walked into our showroom,” he noted. “Our creative director George Sellers and our showroom display artist Ely Sellers did a great job creating a red velvet ‘jewel box’ entrance to our main room off the escalator shaft.
“Red was very popular with customers and we had an extensive red offering across all product categories, from ceramics, glass, carpets, upholstery, wall decor and gold coordinating lighting items,” said Gebhart. “Black and white was also a big statement and was also very well received, again across all home decor product lines.”
Assessing the overall mood of shoppers at High Point Market, Gebhart said the desire for new “wow” items is strong, adding that shoppers’ needs shift as inventory adjusts.
“Everyone was very optimistic and happy to feel ‘free’ to be on the market in October 2022,” he said. “Some of the concerns I heard from other companies exhibiting at the market, and also directly from buyers, were related to many retail outlets that were currently overcrowded to the point of not having to buy more immediately during this market. It appears that supply chain issues have started to allow enough, if not more than enough inventory to flow specifically into the retail channels.
“Designers, on the other hand, have been red hot about buying and sourcing new products as everyone said they were busier than ever,” he continued. “A design duo realized they currently have more than two and a half years of projects on the books and now need to start planning their inventory purchases.”
Gebhart added that original designs, different price ranges, and mixed styles in single rooms were popular with buyers during the market.
“Nothing is forbidden at the moment,” he said. “It seems we need to remain focused on providing our customers with a ‘total home’ resource with our very own uniquely designed products.
“I believe that original and unique designs will define the day as we move into 2023,” he continued. “Shelf goods are everywhere in our industry and market and it shows a lack of real design work that is required to capture the attention of buyers, designers and consumers. Any type of color or scale is accepted as long as it comes from an original design. When it comes to color trends, I believe in taking a color direction and really following it – flat out – without compromising to make customers stop and say, ‘Look at what Global Views is doing now!’”
Adrian Parker, Temple Furniture/Parker Southern
Six-week lead times generated excitement among buyers at the Temple Furniture/Parker Southern showrooms at High Point Market, along with a 1960s-inspired theme that included The Beatles, Sonny and Cher, The Supremes and Jimi Hendrix.
“Our color palette resonated somewhat with our new customers and distributors,” said Parker. “Our Cher and Hepburn sofas were big hits and buyers definitely loved them.”
Parker said the top 100 retailers, boutiques and designers were coming to the showroom, and he attributed the increased attendance to accessing an omnichannel audience through marketing initiatives. He added that he believes that “simple and smaller designs, lower seat heights, and valuable information available online” are among the “must-haves” for Millennials and Gen Z consumers.
“We partnered with Furniture Today on our social media in Q3 and Q4 and grew our followers exponentially,” said Parker. “Reaching out to the furniture industry has a major impact on our business, so we will continue to do so throughout 2023 and equip our factories with good workers to get products to market quickly. We saw a lot of buyers in the market and it was great to have a mix of all types.”
Jeremy Hoff, CEO, and Johne Albanese, Chief Marketing Officer and President, Global E-Commerce, Hooker Furnishings
Hooker Furnishings showrooms featured several new collections including one created in collaboration with the Susan B. Komen Foundation, the debut of Portfolio and the launch of Charleston. The Scott Brothers also returned to High Point Market, attracting a throng of retailers eager to meet the pair, and at each showroom, shoppers were happy to be in person again.
“I would characterize the market for our companies as back to normal and cautiously optimistic,” Hoff said. “I am grateful that we can have face-to-face discussions with our partners. In my opinion there is no substitute for these interactions. We gain so many insights when we are all together.”
Omnichannel strategies will remain an important part of the company’s business plan through 2023, Albanese said, adding his team stands ready to help its retail partners move forward.
“Hooker Furnishings has had a very strong focus on digital first since 2012, particularly when it comes to online media, marketing and e-commerce sales,” he explained. “We have extrapolated this strong position to a broad spectrum of omnichannel retailers for several years, including a focus on helping retailers who have not yet entered the market to capitalize on omnichannel opportunities.
“Our goal is to better communicate our ability to help with omni engagement to the many retailers who are not yet active in this space,” continued Albanese. “We are also expanding our ability to offer our retailers more DTC options across our entire fleet of consumer-facing brands, enabling them to offer significantly faster delivery times for merchandise, bypassing traditional logistics channels.”
Zack Taylor, Wesley Hall
The term Taylor uses a “mixed bag” of approaches to describe buyer activity at Wesley Hall, but he noted that comparisons to pre-pandemic markets are significant.
“Everyone is comparing the results to 2019, which is the last ‘full/normal’ year,” Taylor said. “Demand outperforms 2019 in terms of sales with less robust production increases attributed to price increases.
“After being inundated with inventory and orders sold en route to High Point, buyers have been cautious but also aware that they must maintain ‘their’ place in future production schedules,” he continued. “The climax resulted in a mix of approaches: some staying on track with heavy stock orders, while others planned to wait out the holiday season for spring commitments and trust in continued improvement in lead times. Production timing continued to be a priority.”
According to Taylor, “stylized, organic patterns” caught the attention of shoppers looking for the new accent fabric. Additionally, warmer neutrals and greens were popular choices as shoppers demonstrated an “appetite for color.”
“By our norm, we had success with different lifestyles that were attractive to different lifestyles and regions,” he said. “However, there was a universal appeal in both the Modern Proper lifestyle, today’s traditional menswear, and the Bespoke amenities, a boutique hotel lobby vibe. Both shared common roots in sophisticated comfort and homeliness, and both shared a similar balance of saturated, moody hues based on crisp, neutral whites.
“Shoppers responded to subtle patterns applied to couches and sofas, as well as the return of layered patterns in environments,” Taylor said. “Finally, adding lifestyle components like drinks tables to sections shows a need for style finesse and functionality that fits our way of life.”