Happy Holidays? Retailers hope for a big Black Friday and beyond

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Harkness Furniture always places a holiday sale ad in its local newspaper on Thanksgiving Day.

HIGH POINT – While in some circles the holiday sales season kicked off when the calendar shifted to November, the weekend after Thanksgiving is when it really starts to pick up steam.

Home furnishings retailers are hoping this year’s holiday season – including Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber ​​Monday – will put a nice bow on what has been an uneven year.

Signs indicate that they could receive good news. According to a survey of 2,000 US shoppers from UserTesting, which specializes in video-based human vision, 63% of Black Friday shoppers say in-store shopping is a tradition, 43% of Black Friday shoppers miss the Black Friday chaos in store. shopping, and 42% say in-store shopping is more important now than before the pandemic.

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday retail sales in November and December will grow between 6% and 8% from 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF, noted that when consumers visit stores (or websites), they’re looking for bargains.

“We know consumers are looking for deals and discounts in the face of rising energy prices and rising housing prices,” Shay said during a recent presentation. “We know they are looking for these opportunities and we believe that will continue over the holiday season.”

More traditional purchase cycles

Many of the home furnishings industry’s Black Friday sales kicked off long before the holidays. Take Syracuse, NY-based Dunk & Bright, which launched its holiday campaign mid-month. Owner Joe Bright thinks this will be important for the two-store retailer as consumers return to more traditional shopping cycles.

“I think it’s going to be a huge sale for us. We have noticed in our business at least that the customer has again become motivated by promotions, especially during the holidays,” Bright said. “These major holidays are happening – Labor Day, Columbus Day, Black Friday – and traffic is going through the roof. For the previous two years, you had to say you’re open and customers are coming in. Now they’re looking for deals, and if they wait until that holiday, they’ll find the best deal.

Bright said Dunk & Bright has doors on select products, including recliners for $329, sectionals for $899 and sofas for $359. He said from there, consumers will find a lot more to buy.

“The goal is to also sell other products at a normal margin. As long as you bring the customer in, good things happen,” he said.

Bright said that with a second store added this year, Dunk & Bright is not in dire straits when it comes to its assortment. “I’m not overloaded. I have more space in my warehouse than I have had in probably a year. We increase what we buy. We have the space and customers want in-stock items,” he said.

‘Big Furniture Reset’

Conn’s HomePlus, which is a top 100 retailer, is also in a strong inventory position, said Norm Miller, interim president and chief executive.

“From an inventory perspective, Conn’s is in a good position, and this has allowed us to implement new initiatives to help rethink our merchandising strategy,” Miller said. “In addition to bringing more color and fabric options across our products for shoppers to choose from, one thing we’ve been working on this year is a concept we’re calling the Great Furniture Reset, which is a new way of viewing the layouts and displays in Our stores.”

To illustrate what the Great Furniture Reset means, Miller said Conn’s is taking a more balanced approach to furniture styles and sizes, as well as diversifying with furniture combinations, and has launched specific home decor categories.

“This means that if a customer is looking for specific items like lamps, table tops and more, they can find those items alone or paired with furniture,” he said.

Among Conn’s holiday deals, Miller noted 50% off select furniture and mattresses, as well as 35% off select Samsung products and black-label appliances. He said the brand’s exclusive Dreamspot mattress will have its lowest price of the year and has plenty of financing choices and layaway options.

He said many deals kicked off earlier this month as Conn’s has high hopes for the holiday season.

“Conn’s has always emphasized the holiday season, and like most retailers, it’s our busiest and most important time of the year,” Miller said. “While furniture and mattresses are not historically popular Black Friday categories, we also carry electronics such as televisions, appliances and computers, which sets us apart from other furniture retailers.

“This year, shoppers are gearing up for the holiday season earlier than ever and looking for more value and discounts. For this reason, we are running Black Friday deals throughout November.

Stick to advertising that works

As it gears up for its big holiday campaign, Harkness Furniture takes its traditional place at the center of Thanksgiving Day advertising. For years, the Tacoma, Wash.-based retailer has had a print smudge that wraps around the actual paper, putting all eyes on Harkness in the first place.

“It works well because we’ve been doing this oversized flyer for years and years,” owner Dave Harkness said. “Because it’s oversized, once we print it, it becomes the scarf. Target and Walmart and the like are in our envelope; to access it, you have to go through us. The Thanksgiving newspaper is the newspaper most read of the year.

This year’s Harkness sale includes storewide discounts ranging from 22% to 68% off, with a number of hot buys. Harkness said that while discounts move merchandise, there are also plenty of other in-store products being purchased during these sales, and that’s what makes them successful.

“If one thing COVID has taught us is that you don’t have to have low prices all the time or lower the prices of things,” Harkness said. “We are in a fairly competitive metropolitan market. We’ll never be the lowest, so we tend to do our own thing. We don’t fight with the majors.

He said he hoped Harkness could do most of his holiday activities by mid-December, breathing some life into what is traditionally a weak month. And while he doesn’t expect anything approaching the record sales of the past two years, Harkness hopes things will end on a high note, compared to normal business.

“The last two years have been such an anomaly, we’ve started comparing ourselves to 2019 again,” he said. “We think 2020, 2021, even the first half of 2022, we’re not going to see those numbers going forward. We’re still doing well if we can improve from 2019, which was a record year, we we are doing well.

Clear Inventory

In Houston, Top 100 retailer Exclusive Furniture isn’t eyeing another 2021 anytime soon, but CEO Sam Zavary said there are plenty of reasons to approach the holiday season with optimism.

“Black Friday is going to be better than 2019. Everyone realized it’s not going to be as good as 2021. Thanksgiving is always one of those times when people want to buy furniture,” Zavary said. “I feel like this holiday season people are going to buy furniture because they want their families to come together. People are already traveling and some have missed the holidays for a while. I think the company is going to be decent.

Zavary said getting rid of bad fits is also part of Exclusive’s strategy for the holiday campaign. “We’re burning through this stuff we need. Everyone is probably looking to get rid of some of that inventory. I’m going to do it with stuff that I’m very stocked with,” he said. “It’s bad news in a way; margins will suffer, but ultimately we need to get rid of that old inventory and wacky inventory.

He said selling these items may not be the best margin, but it does create opportunities for warehouse space and cash. Zavary said with cash, retailers are positioning themselves to weather the toughest times. He said he wouldn’t be surprised to see leaner days once the holiday hustle and bustle were over.

“I think the elephant in the room is the economy. It is what it is,” Zavary said. money, you can go through it. I have a feeling that business is going to take a dip, but if you’re not careful, it’s not going to be good.

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