Opinions

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

    Maureen AzzatoWithout question, brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling with omnichannel retailing and coming late to the party with mega technology and infrastructure investments. But, as they say, better late than never. The world, and how consumers buy, is changing at breakneck pace. It seems that any technology investments made today will be obsolete before they even launch, no matter how hard retailers try to read their tea leaves and extend as far into the future as possible. It’s not so different from urban planners building super highways that exceed capacity before construction is even finished. If the experts are to be ... Read More
  • At Your Service

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORShop at home decorating services. Bicycle repair departments. Pharmacies. Beauty salons. The classic American department store used to have all of those things–and plenty more–back in the day when they ruled the retail roost. You could walk into one of these emporiums (in fact, there actually was a store called The Emporium that California readers of a certain age will recall) and get nearly as many services as you could goods. So perhaps, under the heading that everything that’s old is new again, we shouldn’t be all that surprised that today’s retailing survivors are once ... Read More
  • HB2: Is it Really About Bathrooms?

    Bill McLoughlinA great deal of attention has been focused on North Carolina in recent weeks, most of it negative. The state legislature’s passage of HB2 and Governor Pat McCrory’s decision to sign it into law has led numerous companies to release statements distancing themselves from the law and the state. The weeks leading up to last month’s High Point Market were filled with boycott threats and angry statements opposing what many described as the discriminatory intent of the bill. Those who support the bill, most often quietly and almost universally off the record, typically express concern about the ... Read More
  • Latino Cross-Overs

    Maureen AzzatoTake off your marketing bifocals: Latino cultures appeal to more than just Hispanics. At 55.3 million strong in 2014, the Hispanic population is expected to grow to 105.8 million by 2065 (from 17.3 percent to 24 percent of the total U.S. population). Add to that what some call the “cross-over phenomenon”—non-Hispanics enamored with Latin cultures and food—and this consumer products market will explode. (See our cover story on how retailers and manufacturers are targeting this important market.) Raul Corzo, president of housewares company Imusa, opened my eyes to the cross-over phenomenon and how lucrative ... 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
  • Wrestling With Omnichannel

    Maureen AzzatoWithout question, brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling with omnichannel retailing and coming late to the party with mega technology and infrastructure investments. But, as they say, better late than never. The world, and how consumers buy, is changing at breakneck pace. It seems that any technology investments made today will be obsolete before they even launch, no matter how hard retailers try to read their tea leaves and extend as far into the future as possible. It’s not so different from urban planners building super highways that exceed capacity before construction is even finished. If the experts are to be ... Read More
  • At Your Service

    Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTORShop at home decorating services. Bicycle repair departments. Pharmacies. Beauty salons. The classic American department store used to have all of those things–and plenty more–back in the day when they ruled the retail roost. You could walk into one of these emporiums (in fact, there actually was a store called The Emporium that California readers of a certain age will recall) and get nearly as many services as you could goods. So perhaps, under the heading that everything that’s old is new again, we shouldn’t be all that surprised that today’s retailing survivors are once ... Read More
  • HB2: Is it Really About Bathrooms?

    Bill McLoughlinA great deal of attention has been focused on North Carolina in recent weeks, most of it negative. The state legislature’s passage of HB2 and Governor Pat McCrory’s decision to sign it into law has led numerous companies to release statements distancing themselves from the law and the state. The weeks leading up to last month’s High Point Market were filled with boycott threats and angry statements opposing what many described as the discriminatory intent of the bill. Those who support the bill, most often quietly and almost universally off the record, typically express concern about the ... Read More
  • Path to Omnichannel

    Bill McLoughlinAnother Housewares Show is in the books, 24 straight and counting. It’s always great catching up with friends and it’s good to see the wheels of innovation keep turning. It’s also fun to see those efforts to capitalize on new buzzwords and trends, some of which result in really cool new solutions and others . . . well, at least they’re trying. Speaking of buzzwords, can we please stop misusing the term omnichannel. It’s become the popular way to describe having a brick-and-mortar store, e-commerce website and responsive mobile platform—that’s multichannel, albeit with an electronic twist ... Read More
  • Your Total Home and Housewares Resource

    Maureen AzzatoIt is a privilege to join the team of such an iconic business-to-business brand as HFN. In the month I have been on the job, it has been so gratifying to hear from and speak to readers and clients who have such a strong affinity to HFN, and who rely on it so fully for their on-trend business decisions across the home and housewares categories. We thank you for your readership and trust, and we plan to build on that wonderful legacy in the future. There are few media brands that have been around as long as HFN (we will ... Read More