Home Accents Today Staff -- Home Accents Today, 2/1/2013 2:00:00 AM
I write this month's column less than 24 hours after returning home from Atlanta and just a few days before heading off to Dallas, giving me and the rest of the HAT staff just a few short days to put out this issue, which is being handed out at the New York and Las Vegas markets.
My head is spinning. Is yours? Now, the tight timing of this issue means that there is only one show completed for this winter season, but I have to say that by all indications, Atlanta was a blockbuster, and my sources are pretty unified in expecting the good news to keep coming as we head through the rest of this busy season.
What's driving this upbeat attitude? Is it the fact that solid holiday shopping seasons have left stores out of stock and in need of a quick reload? Or the fact that despite buying heavily last winter, buyers and consumers backed off noticeably in the summer, so there's pent-up demand? Or is it the fact that the election and the fiscal cliff debacle are behind us (well, kind of)? Or, perhaps, the economy really is starting to improve?
I suspect it's still too early to tell. As we all know, one good market does not a great show season make, so all eyes now move to Dallas, New York, Las Vegas and the regional shows to see how they play out over the next few weeks.
The market centers have been working hard to improve showrooms, add interesting new vendors and incentivize retailer attendance. Vendors, too, have stepped up to the plate with great products, showroom expansions and renovations, and market promotions.
It's now up to you - the retail community -- to take the next step in investing in exciting new products again, marketing your businesses and tweaking them as needed in terms of store layout, merchandising, staffing and more. Then come up with innovative ways to bring the buying public along with you. Seems like it may be more doable now than it has been in several years.
The Commerce Department reported that December was another strong month at retail, up .5% over November, which was 0.4% itself. Sales were up 4.7% from December 2011, for the entire 2012 period, were up 5.2%.
You've heard it from me in my last few columns - the economic indicators continue to improve. It just feels to me like there's real traction out there. We're still riding through the mud, but it seems like the tires are starting to grip a little bit better.
A friend of mine in the industry once said to me that sometimes you don't know a recovery is coming until it's there. So, are we there yet?
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