TD Bank: Furniture Retailers Less Bullish on Sales

While 52 percent predict a sales increase, the numbers have dropped since 2016
May 15, 2017Joanne Friedrick

TD Bank surveyWILMINGTON, Del.—Furniture retailers are less optimistic about sales increases for the second quarter of 2017 after highly positive sales predictions previously, according to a TD Bank survey taken during High Point Market last month.

When asked about furniture purchasing expectations for the April through June quarter this year, 52 percent of the 101 furniture retailer respondents said furniture purchases would increase and 43 percent called for steady sales. But when a similar question was posed to 109 furniture retailers and distributors at the Furniture Today Leadership Conference in November 2016, nearly 80 percent of respondents said furniture purchasing would increase. And at the previous High Point Market in October 2016, about 69 percent noted furniture sales would increase in 2017.

Mike Rittler, head of retail card services for TD Bank, said while respondents were bullish on where things were going in the 2016 surveys, 2017 is starting out on a more cautious note.

TD Bank has conducted several surveys over the past year to gauge retailers’ moods, said Rittler. “We like to go out to industry clients to keep a finger on the pulse on where the industry is headed.” In addition to High Point and the Furniture Today conference (Furniture Today is a sister brand of HFN), TD has also surveyed attendees at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York and Las Vegas Market.

Another question, having to do with credit promotional finance programs, revealed that 60 percent of the 2017 High Point retailer respondents find such programs to be important to their business, with 34 percent saying it was extremely important and 26 percent rating it moderately important. Rittler said that isn’t surprising given that furniture is a major purchase for most consumers, and having a deferred interest program or an equal payment over time program makes managing such purchases easier.

Furniture retailers were also asked about the impact of the recent interest rate hike and although most (65 percent) said it wouldn’t impact sales in the second quarter, Rittler said he believes rate increases “will be part of the story. The current hike hasn’t had an impact,” he said, “but it may down the road.”

On the issue of rewards programs, the majority of the furniture retailers (55 percent) surveyed at High Point this year said they don’t currently offer a rewards program and among those that do, discounts on future purchases lead the list at 35 percent, followed by extended warranties (25 percent) in-store credit (18 percent), access to promotional coupons (17 percent) and cash back (5 percent). Noting the big ticket but less frequent purchase nature with furniture buying, Rittler said reward programs wouldn’t be as big a driver as flexible payments.

Joanne FriedrickJoanne Friedrick | Contributing Editor

Joanne Friedrick is a contributing editor for HFN with more than 20 years of retail and housewares business reporting, writing and editing. For the past 15 years she has been operating her own business with clients that include Convenience Distribution, Seafood Source and Zest, a Maine-focused consumer food and lifestyle magazine.

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