By Craig Johnson, email@example.com
After the steepest sales slump in decades, the once-sputtering retail economy is coming back to life. And it may be coming back most strongly closest to home: the home-furnishings and home-improvement sectors.
Based on its weekly store checks across the country, and results recently reported by home-related retailers, Customer Growth Partners (CPG) analysis shows that the retail sector in general, and the home-focused retailers in particular, may be at the outset of an exceptionally strong rebound.
After a four-year slump, home furnishings and home-improvement retailers -- now that housing turnover is picking up -- are beginning what may be quite a solid recovery. As we saw with major appliances on Black Friday, and as we’re seeing now in furniture, all it takes to ignite years of pent-up demand is sunny skies and a percent-off coupon.
In fact, after a 2009 retail economy that declined by 5.7%, and 2.3% excluding gasoline, the worst year since at least the 1970s, the only reason we aren’t seeing even stronger home-related retail growth is the near 10% unemployment, and still stagnant housing markets in Arizona, California and Nevada. But across sectors -- including apparel, consumer electronics, sporting goods, toys and other general merchandise -- and at both the discount and luxury ends of the price spectrum, retail is emerging after a long hibernation.
Based on its historical database, CGP analysis shows that the home-furnishings and home-improvement sectors last year suffered the greatest declines, of 20% and 18% respectively, from their sales peaks last decade, over four years ago.
Home-furnishings retailers reporting this week, including Ethan Allen and Haverty, each reported rising sales year-to-date after many years of decline, and Williams-Sonoma -- which doesn’t report until later this month -- sharply raised guidance at the end of January. CGP store checks have indicated stronger traffic and conversion levels at other home-furnishings players this winter, including at Bed Bath Beyond, Crate & Barrel, TJX’s HomeGoods division, and the home departments of broadline retailers such as Costco, Macy’s and Targe