Housing starts and housing sales are up. That’s great news for building supply, roofing, landscaping and flooring businesses. This is also good news for home furnishing retailers. As the housing market rebounds, furniture retailers and chain stores with home goods departments are looking forward to a sunny forecast for their businesses, too.
The economy is rebounding. February 2013 saw home sales up 12.3% over the same time a year ago, according to the 2013 Spring #HPMKT report. New home construction rose 27.7% compared to the same month in 2012. Job growth, pent-up demand and fewer foreclosures are all contributing to this rise in housing activity. As the housing sector gets busy, customers are shopping again.
If you are a retailer that sells furniture and home merchandise you can position your business to increase sales and revenue with these simple suggestions.
1F Freshen up your inventory. Now is a great time to attract some attention by introducing new inventory and designer styles. Take a tip from major retailers JC Penney and Target. These stores are both taking steps to capture new customers this season by making investments in their home departments. Target is introducing “Threshold” home furnishings, a rebrand of their Target Home line, as well as offering more designer ware. JC Penney has been revamping their home business by rolling out brand new home shops in their stores around the country. Can't do a complete remodel in your store? Make a statement in your store by setting up a special area to highlight some of the new trends.
2. Keep “value-oriented” in mind. Consumers today have become accustomed to shopping around for the best deal. Fierce competition by the discount stores and availability of designer ware for less has created a frugal mindset among shoppers of all incomes. Import stores, warehouse stores and even dollar stores are competing for your customers' budget. How to capture this market? Make sure your business offers different price points and highlight pieces that can stand on their own. Also, reinforce the value of well-constructed furniture and classic pieces that can transition into different themes for years to come. Consumers are no longer looking into matched sets. According to a style survey by Apartment Therapy, 76% of consumers prefer an unplanned look, which means they may buy from several retailers. Promote some unique pieces that are affordable yet striking and not readily available anywhere else to create some buzz at your business.
3. Develop customer loyalty for long term results. As more consumers become new home buyers, you have an opportunity to capture their business and their loyalty, translating to recurring sales in the years to come. Ways to do this include invitations to exclusive sales, special events and holiday open houses, and letting them know about payment programs that don’t require credit cards or layaway. A Multiple Check program can enable them to buy the furniture they want all at once. Download the guide for more information or stop by the HFIC conference and see our Vice President of Sales, Charles Dortch in Booth 36. Be sure to register to win a gift certificate while you're there.
One final tip, make sure to stock something in the color blue. According to a consumer survey, blue was the top “go-to” color for 2013, chosen by 29% of respondents, followed by 18% who preferred gray.
Let us know what tips or suggestions you have to increase sales this summer.