“The recession is over for the home furnishings industry, we are not going back to as bad as it was in the second quarter, it will get better and better.”
This is the message given to High Point marketgoers yesterday by Jerry Epperson, founder and managing editor of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd., an investment banking and research firm based in Richmond, Va. Epperson has more than 50 years of experience and speaks at the High Point market twice a year as a guest of the Home Furnishings Association.
According to Epperson, May, June and July were as bad as any he has seen in his career, “and that’s a long career. I started in the business in 1971.”
Nonetheless, the industry has now turned a corner. “This is the first time since 2019 that we’ve been getting close enough to normal that you can look at product and know that you will receive it in three to five months,” he said.
It’s also the first time in four years that retailers can accurately plan and merchandise their floors and plan inventory for the coming year. Epperson said he’s convinced that years from now we will all be talking about how all fall orders arrived at once, in May, held up by the tangled supply chain for months.
“This is the first time since 2019 that we’ve been getting close enough to normal that you can look at product and know that you will receive it in three to five months.”—Jerry Epperson
Logistics people are telling him that the cost of a container from Asia to the West Coast has gone down to $3,000 from a high of $20,000.
“It has opened up and people are saving so much money now,” he said. “Many manufacturers and vendors are dropping the import surcharges and prices are going down. The worst months are behind us since June and July were universally miserable and we all shared in that. That was the worst. Traffic hasn’t picked up yet, but it is better than it was.”
Epperson said the same can’t be said of other industries or the economy as a whole, including perishables and non-durables. Other industries that are more discretionary than home furnishings will continue to suffer, according to Epperson.
“Restaurants can’t get food and don’t want to pay the high prices. The better steakhouses are having to make do with lesser cuts of meat,” he said. “All those guys are hurting.”