Opinions

HFN editors have years of experience covering products and retail for housewares, tabletop, floor covering, furniture and textiles. They share their opinions here.
  • By the Letter

    Allison ZiskoMonogramming has caught tabletop by storm. There has been a flurry of activity as players big and small introduce or enhance their monogram programs. Lenox is now offering a free monogram on certain accent plates, based on its success with monogrammed drinkware. Caskata’s new program allows consumers to personalize more than 75 items in its line. And Pickard China, which already offered a monogram program, has teamed with Halo Home, a table linens company, to offer a broader assortment of fonts and design choices for personalized dinnerware. That’s in addition to the many other manufacturers who offer single ... Read More
  • Happily Distressed

    Andrea LilloThe vintage trend in the rug category shows no signs of abating, as well-worn distressed looks continue to dominate. At recent trade shows, exhibitors brought out their newest versions of vintage, ranging from lower-end machine mades to upper-end handknotteds. With their heirloom looks, these rugs pair perfectly with the recent rise of antiques and one-of-a-kinds in the industry. The Antiques temporary area debuted last month at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market in response to this trend. Next month, the New York International Carpet Show will unveil its Antiques Pavilion, which has already doubled in size from its initial ... Read More
  • Pokémon, Netflix and Death of Traditional Marketing

    Bill McLoughlinFor the better part of the last 20 years, the housewares engine has been fueled by culinary television. The popularity of cooking shows, culinary celebrities and the tools and techniques they exposed has helped fuel product and marketing decisions, and generated billions in sales. The challenge today is that the next generation of consumers—those 80 million or so millennials—don’t watch TV, or at least not traditional commercial TV. They binge watch their favorite shows on Netflix and, according to recent studies, they watch more content on YouTube than traditional television. When they want cooking inspiration they don ... Read More
  • The Importance of Stores

    Maureen AzzatoThe demise of the retail store is sorely overstated. It’s easy to get carried away in this digital world and believe—based on everything we read about the breakneck pace of technological change—that the retail store has lost its relevance, that it is a thing of the past. With all of the dot-com growth, we often forget that digital sales still only represent 10 percent of all retail sales. While certainly digital sales are higher in some segments—such as apparel and accessories—and lower in others—such as furniture and mattresses—the reality is that stores are ... Read More
  • One Kings Lane & Beyond

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORIf you want to know the real reason why Bed Bath & Beyond bought One Kings Lane, it has very little to do with gaining online selling expertise. And everything to do with HomeGoods … and, to a lesser extent, Wayfair. Sure, BBB has struggled to get its internet business up to industry standard levels and clearly needs to improve both its website and supply chain management processes to be competitive. But think about it: It’s a safe bet to assume that One Kings Lane’s overall business is significantly smaller than Bed Bath’s online sales, and its internet selling ... Read More
  • A Whole Lot of Shake Up

    Maureen AzzatoTerry Lundgren is on his way out at Macy’s Inc., and so is Tim Belk, ending 128 years of family leadership at Belk Inc. News about the changing of the guard at both department store chains, which occurred only days apart, has the industry buzzing in speculation. Were the changes part of master succession plans? Probably, but the powers that be likely put the proverbial pedal to the metal. Were the men forced out? It’s more likely they saw the writing on the wall and realized it was time for new blood to navigate their companies through the ... Read More
  • The Housing Conundrum

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORAmongst all the pressing questions facing the home furnishings industry, there is one nagging one that just won’t go away—and defies an answer. Why isn’t the business feeling the positive affects of the rebound in the housing market? Historically, home furnishings sales have trailed home improvement industry sales by anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the individual products. Big-ticket items like furniture, major appliances and floor coverings were on the shorter side of that equation while home décor and textiles stretched it out to the other end of the spectrum. People put in ... Read More
  • Good Fall Times

    Bill McLoughlinElection years are often dicey times for home goods sales. Economic and political uncertainty, in fact uncertainty of any kind, often causes consumers to tighten their purse strings and postpone any but the smallest or most necessary purchases. And events this year at home and abroad have offered plenty of cause for uncertainty. However, all uncertainties are not created equal and two developments—the outcomes of which remain to be seen—could have a positive effect on U.S. housewares consumers heading into the critical fourth quarter selling season. The first is the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the ... Read More
  • Blog: A Little Learning

    David GillThe textiles industry needs to start taking classes. This fact became apparent on a recent visit to the International Housewares Association’s IBC Global Forum, which took place last month in Chicago. The event detailed ways that vendors could increase their business internationally and included talks by retailers from around the world. Among the attendees was an executive from a textiles manufacturer. It was surprising, and refreshing, to meet a textiles guy at such a happening—a sign that there is at least one soft goods company which realizes that there is a whole physical world beyond America—and beyond ... Read More
  • The Marriage Market

    David GillThe wedding business in the housewares industry has gotten busier in recent months. Newell Rubbermaid and Jarden officially tied the knot in April, giving birth to a new company—Newell Brands. Last month, Groupe SEB walked down the aisle with WMF, the German housewares manufacturer (see story on this page). So now the question becomes, who will be the new suitors in the next courtship between housewares vendors? It’s a fair question for several reasons. First, many of the housewares industry’s biggest companies were formed by joining forces. Two of the prime examples are, fittingly enough, Newell and ... Read More
  • HFN’s Total Home Omnichannel Summit

    Maureen AzzatoThe global online market for home furnishings is slated to grow 19 percent annually through 2020. Are you ready? Everything we’re seeing indicates home retailers and manufacturers are struggling to get a foothold in this rapidly changing retail environment where digital, mobile and social media are changing the rules at a breakneck pace. The disruption is clearly evident in the poor performance posted by many of the industry’s top retail players in 2015 and this year’s first quarter. There’s room for many retailers to win—from brick-and-mortar operators to e-commerce pure plays and everything in between ... Read More
  • Dear Terry

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORIt’s sure been a tough six months for you, hasn’t it Terry? Christmas at your Macy’s stores was pretty dismal—though the stores and the parade looked fabulous—and business hasn’t gotten much better through the first part of this year. But let’s face it, you’ve dealt with far worse situations. When you first got to Macy’s—then still called Federated—it was a mess, but you toughed it out and built one of America’s great retailing companies. You got aggressive and bought your biggest competitor —May Co.— and then nationalized all ... Read More
  • By the Letter

    Allison ZiskoMonogramming has caught tabletop by storm. There has been a flurry of activity as players big and small introduce or enhance their monogram programs. Lenox is now offering a free monogram on certain accent plates, based on its success with monogrammed drinkware. Caskata’s new program allows consumers to personalize more than 75 items in its line. And Pickard China, which already offered a monogram program, has teamed with Halo Home, a table linens company, to offer a broader assortment of fonts and design choices for personalized dinnerware. That’s in addition to the many other manufacturers who offer single ... Read More
  • Happily Distressed

    Andrea LilloThe vintage trend in the rug category shows no signs of abating, as well-worn distressed looks continue to dominate. At recent trade shows, exhibitors brought out their newest versions of vintage, ranging from lower-end machine mades to upper-end handknotteds. With their heirloom looks, these rugs pair perfectly with the recent rise of antiques and one-of-a-kinds in the industry. The Antiques temporary area debuted last month at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market in response to this trend. Next month, the New York International Carpet Show will unveil its Antiques Pavilion, which has already doubled in size from its initial ... Read More
  • Pokémon, Netflix and Death of Traditional Marketing

    Bill McLoughlinFor the better part of the last 20 years, the housewares engine has been fueled by culinary television. The popularity of cooking shows, culinary celebrities and the tools and techniques they exposed has helped fuel product and marketing decisions, and generated billions in sales. The challenge today is that the next generation of consumers—those 80 million or so millennials—don’t watch TV, or at least not traditional commercial TV. They binge watch their favorite shows on Netflix and, according to recent studies, they watch more content on YouTube than traditional television. When they want cooking inspiration they don ... Read More
  • The Importance of Stores

    Maureen AzzatoThe demise of the retail store is sorely overstated. It’s easy to get carried away in this digital world and believe—based on everything we read about the breakneck pace of technological change—that the retail store has lost its relevance, that it is a thing of the past. With all of the dot-com growth, we often forget that digital sales still only represent 10 percent of all retail sales. While certainly digital sales are higher in some segments—such as apparel and accessories—and lower in others—such as furniture and mattresses—the reality is that stores are ... Read More
  • One Kings Lane & Beyond

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORIf you want to know the real reason why Bed Bath & Beyond bought One Kings Lane, it has very little to do with gaining online selling expertise. And everything to do with HomeGoods … and, to a lesser extent, Wayfair. Sure, BBB has struggled to get its internet business up to industry standard levels and clearly needs to improve both its website and supply chain management processes to be competitive. But think about it: It’s a safe bet to assume that One Kings Lane’s overall business is significantly smaller than Bed Bath’s online sales, and its internet selling ... Read More
  • A Whole Lot of Shake Up

    Maureen AzzatoTerry Lundgren is on his way out at Macy’s Inc., and so is Tim Belk, ending 128 years of family leadership at Belk Inc. News about the changing of the guard at both department store chains, which occurred only days apart, has the industry buzzing in speculation. Were the changes part of master succession plans? Probably, but the powers that be likely put the proverbial pedal to the metal. Were the men forced out? It’s more likely they saw the writing on the wall and realized it was time for new blood to navigate their companies through the ... Read More
  • The Housing Conundrum

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORAmongst all the pressing questions facing the home furnishings industry, there is one nagging one that just won’t go away—and defies an answer. Why isn’t the business feeling the positive affects of the rebound in the housing market? Historically, home furnishings sales have trailed home improvement industry sales by anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the individual products. Big-ticket items like furniture, major appliances and floor coverings were on the shorter side of that equation while home décor and textiles stretched it out to the other end of the spectrum. People put in ... Read More
  • Good Fall Times

    Bill McLoughlinElection years are often dicey times for home goods sales. Economic and political uncertainty, in fact uncertainty of any kind, often causes consumers to tighten their purse strings and postpone any but the smallest or most necessary purchases. And events this year at home and abroad have offered plenty of cause for uncertainty. However, all uncertainties are not created equal and two developments—the outcomes of which remain to be seen—could have a positive effect on U.S. housewares consumers heading into the critical fourth quarter selling season. The first is the United Kingdom’s decision to exit the ... Read More
  • Blog: A Little Learning

    David GillThe textiles industry needs to start taking classes. This fact became apparent on a recent visit to the International Housewares Association’s IBC Global Forum, which took place last month in Chicago. The event detailed ways that vendors could increase their business internationally and included talks by retailers from around the world. Among the attendees was an executive from a textiles manufacturer. It was surprising, and refreshing, to meet a textiles guy at such a happening—a sign that there is at least one soft goods company which realizes that there is a whole physical world beyond America—and beyond ... Read More
  • HFN’s Total Home Omnichannel Summit

    Maureen AzzatoThe global online market for home furnishings is slated to grow 19 percent annually through 2020. Are you ready? Everything we’re seeing indicates home retailers and manufacturers are struggling to get a foothold in this rapidly changing retail environment where digital, mobile and social media are changing the rules at a breakneck pace. The disruption is clearly evident in the poor performance posted by many of the industry’s top retail players in 2015 and this year’s first quarter. There’s room for many retailers to win—from brick-and-mortar operators to e-commerce pure plays and everything in between ... Read More
  • Dear Terry

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORIt’s sure been a tough six months for you, hasn’t it Terry? Christmas at your Macy’s stores was pretty dismal—though the stores and the parade looked fabulous—and business hasn’t gotten much better through the first part of this year. But let’s face it, you’ve dealt with far worse situations. When you first got to Macy’s—then still called Federated—it was a mess, but you toughed it out and built one of America’s great retailing companies. You got aggressive and bought your biggest competitor —May Co.— and then nationalized all ... Read More
  • It’s Not Only About The Competition

    Bill McLoughlinIt’s common for housewares companies to measure themselves against competitors, internally and in communication to potential customers. Companies taking this approach often study competitors relentlessly. Every new product, marketing campaign and sales initiative is pored over, analyzed and deconstructed for information that can be used to define a response. And there are those who achieve a measure of success doing this. These companies are great followers. I once had the president of a company tell me that sometimes it is better to be a good follower than a market leader. That was right before the Internet boom went bust ... Read More