Colorful insights into what may happen each month at retail in 2024 and
what you should do to prepare.
Stranger than Truth! Amazing Predictions! Whether you browse the headlines
of Weekly World News or glance at the National Enquirer when purchasing
groceries, chances are that you will soon see headlines touting the BOLD
REVELATIONS for 2024!
I would rather cast my fortune on rolling boxcars three times in a row at
Caesars Palace during the Vegas Market than believe what the tabloids print,
but that hasn’t stopped me from making my own bold monthly 2024 predictions
for our home furnishing industry. I encourage you to save a copy of this
edition in a safe place and check back with me during the 2025 Rose Bowl
Parade to see how many I get right!
January: Small interest rate changes
will translate into big furniture and mattress store business opportunities.
Look for a drop in mortgage rates. Even a half-percent causes people to buy
homes and the furniture to fill them. A one percent drop in the prime rate
means lower consumer finance rates to promote extended free financing. A
two-percent drop means it’s time to build a new store, warehouse facility or
February: Tax attack! W-2s got sent
out in January, so shoppers are at H&R Block or TurboTax filing their
returns and dreaming of refunds. You’ll see them browsing your store, ready
to spend once their checks arrive. You can attract be-backs and new shoppers
in February with a “$99 starts any sale” promo. Collect a small deposit to
hold the price of any product. When the refunds come in, so will paying
March: Look out for changes in
personnel this month! More than 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement
age every day. That means experienced sales and operations people may be
thinking about packing it in. You may be caught shorthanded if you don’t
have succession plans! The good news is that some of those 10,000 rock ‘n’
rollers are looking for part-time second careers. March is a wonderful time
to add great folks looking to work 15-25 hours a week.
April: The “slow boat” didn’t come
in! It’s hard to believe that in April 2024, most retailers will still be
staking their business fortunes on shipments from a limited number of
suppliers, resulting in significant international or other exposure. By
then, you may have sold off samples in anticipation of receiving shiny new
merchandise ordered at the High Point or Vegas shows. Maybe your phone will
be ringing with customer complaints regarding undelivered merchandise.
International uncertainty requires that retailers plan for supply-chain
slowdowns. Consider setting up a reward system guarantee for shoppers who
will be disappointed should you fail to meet your delivery promises (perhaps
a $500 in store credit) along with a punishment system for vendors who
over-promise and under-deliver. Try to negotiate 90-day terms if they ship
late or a 5% discount on the invoice for late shipments. If your vendors are
true partners, they should consider it. Also, plan for supply backups should
major suppliers unexpectedly file for Chapter 11.
May: Memorial Day sales will be
huge. But that’s the last week of the month. Winning retailers will promote
gifts for upcoming Mother’s Day, weddings, and graduations. I’m talking
about mattress sets, dining furniture, and living room packages.
Forward-thinking retailers will create and promote an online wedding or
graduation gift registry, so happy grads or couples can sign up and share
their wish lists with friends and loved ones.
June: Family vacation season will
steal your sales. It’s a fact. Post-pandemic travel spending has reduced
discretionary dollars spent on furniture and bedding. The choice is yours.
You can stare at the four walls of your store. Or choose from one of these:
Promote staycations featuring overstuffed family room furniture, offer no
payments until September, or go whole hog and give away a vacation package
with a minimum purchase.
“In June the choice is yours. You can stare at the four walls of your store.
Or choose from one of these: Promote staycations featuring overstuffed
family room furniture, offer no payments until September; or go whole
July: Many more store managers will
declare independence from the fear that their trusted office manager or data
entry clerk will quit. That’s because they will have taken the time to learn
how to use their point-of-sale systems and to perform essential clerical
duties that allow their stores to function. That way, they will be able to
survive (albeit temporarily) without office employees who either hold them
hostage or quit, due to unforeseen circumstances. End fear in your store in
July by learning how to mail packages, turn on the lights and tie your
shoelaces! And if you are a store or factory owner, learn those functions
August: By the eighth month, one of
your local competitors will give up and burn out with one of those whiz-bang
wall-to-wall sell-offs. Or, one of those national behemoth chains will pick
your town for expansion. Either of these situations can disrupt your
business and steal market share. You don’t have to be the next store with
garish yellow and black posters in your windows. If the NBA playoffs are
done by now (they seem to last forever!), you will have heard that “the best
defense is a good offense” at least four score times! Go on offense and give
September: It’s a season you want to
greet. Sure, the first week of the month will be so hot that the Christmas
candy will melt at Walmart. Remember that the most important ‘seasons’ for
furniture retailers can’t be found in an almanac. They are baseball playoff
season and the college and professional football seasons. That means TV time
and, more importantly, recliners! Have them in stock and ready to go.
Selling recliners doesn’t restrict you to sub-$500 sales. Why not give them
away free with select family room furniture or premium mattress sets?
October: Vote “NO” to sales
slowdowns! The November presidential elections may seem far away, but
starting in October, you will have trouble purchasing radio and TV time.
Whoever the candidates are, their spending will look like a nuclear arms
race on steroids! Your loyal TV and radio stations will drop you like a
third-party candidate to reap the rich monetary rewards the Dems and GOP
bestow on them. Fewer people read the newspaper, and local candidates will
jam the USPS with junk mail. Pick your advertising source and invest
November: After the election votes
have been counted, 51% of the electorate will be happy. Eventually, most
cries of election fraud and foul play will somewhat abate. History shows we
will see spirits rise along with the stock market and overall well-being
expectations. I predict that 51% of vendors and retailers will take
advantage of these good feelings and promote heavily. The remainder will
grumble, and half of those grumblers will not see 2026!
December: Some things just won’t fit
down the chimney. Try as we might, we have not convinced the public that a
new sofa, mattress, recliner, or dresser, has a place under that decorated
tree. Our customers prefer to waste their money on TVs, jewelry, and
clothes. Since coat racks and silent butlers (does anyone still make those?)
don’t bring in sales. I predict that some smart manufacturers will help
retailers promote Christmas items like TV consoles and jewelry armoires by
offering them at hot prices and offering retailers extended terms (March
2025) on the unsold inventory. It will foster mutual trust and partnership
between vendors and retailers that will last throughout the New Year.
On second thought, I am taking that last prediction back!
“In October: Vote “NO” to sales slowdowns! The November presidential
elections may seem far away, but starting in October, you will have trouble
purchasing radio and TV time.”