“There’s a party goin’ on right here,
A celebration to last throughout the years.”
—Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration”
That ditty, mostly heard at weddings these days, is from way back in 1980. But it could very well describe the home furnishings business as celebrating/partying has become a driving factor for retail sales.
In spite of—or possibly because of—ongoing concern about the economy, it’s party time for the home furnishings business. Not surprisingly, vendors and retailers are joining the celebration.
Research for HFN’s annual State of the Industry report revealed that some of the best performing categories last year were directly related to partying consumers.
In 2011, sales of blenders and food processors grew by more than 4 percent—keep those margaritas coming. This was on top of a 3.4 percent increase in 2010.
At the same time, baking—a prerequisite to any proper birthday party—is another growing category in housewares.
The recent International Home + Housewares Show was certainly in party mode, showing that the celebrating will most likely continue through the year.
Seemingly every vendor at the show introduced party or entertainment-oriented items. Tabletop vendors touted cake pedestals and punch bowls. Small appliance manufacturers unveiled popcorn makers, snow cone machines and soda fountains. Ceramic knives, made specially for birthday-cake cutting, were emblazoned with colorful balloon motifs.
Attention-getting, eye-popping color was one of the main themes of the show as manufacturers intimated that living with color makes every day a party. Manufacturers took color to a new level as sophisticated hues adorned everything from potato peelers to frying pans.
The home furnishings party will continue in New York this month when the tabletop industry convenes for its spring gathering. Tabletop vendors will show drinking glasses and serving pitchers in multiple shapes and sizes for every drink and cocktail under the sun.
The celebration also convenes in North Carolina this month at the High Point Market. Especially party oriented are outdoor furniture makers, who continue to take advantage of the increasing popularity of the “outdoor room,” as they look to expand their distribution into traditional furniture stores. In High Point, those vendors are responding to party-minded consumers with outdoor firepits and bar tables and stools. Also, note that chat areas with loveseats and coffee tables have become as omnipresent in outdoor furniture as dining tables with outdoor umbrellas.
Rug makers are joining in by increasing their outdoor rug offerings. Both makers of outdoor furniture and rugs point out that their outdoor items also can be used indoors.
Across all categories and price points, retailers and home furnishings vendors are benefiting from knowing that consumers are willing to fight—or at least pay—for their right to party.