OUR OPINION: Market’s ‘attitude’ cited among positive factors

By NEMS Daily Journal

The closing Sunday of the spring Tupelo Furniture Market event apparently made money for many of the exhibitors at the first of two shows scheduled for the market’s 25th year, and owner V.M. Cleveland said he is already fully focused on the fall market show in August.
Cleveland said numbers were up from the spring market in 2011.
Late last week, the industry trade journal Furniture Today published an upbeat report based on interviews with exhibitors and manufacturing reps.
A manufacturer from Northeast Mississippi on background said the market had decent traffic and better attitudes, with an assessment of pretty good for the three-day run.
Furniture Today said the market had “brisk traffic” even on the “soft-opening” day Feb. 15.
Reporter Heath Combs said those interviewed thought the activity reflected “an improving economic climate and significantly re-energized retail community aggressively shopping new looks for their stores.”
While Tupelo traditionally has been known as a closeout and deal market, retailers this week also want to know what’s in stock, World Import’s Jeff Wallner, vice president of sales for upholstery and case goods, told Furniture Today.
The article also cited other sellers who had a good market and expressed cautious optimism for a recovery.
Brian Akchin, president of upholstery manufacturer Fraenkel/Advantage said Tupelo’s market was like “good retail attitudes shown at previous markets this year, including Las Vegas, Atlanta and Toronto.”
Akchin said the markets so far suggest pent-up demand.
Glenn Wakefield, president of case goods and upholstery importer Largo International, said his firm was up 23 percent so far this year, Furniture Today reported.
Cleveland said the weekend kept a steady pace. “This February is in line with last February’s shows,” he said. He’ll always push for more traffic and higher numbers, Cleveland said, but he can see an upswing.
Jean Cox with Jenkins Lamp Inc. of Paragould, Ark., said her Arkansas-based company had “opened a lot of good accounts.”
Interest in markets like Tupelo will be carefully analyzed going forward because furniture sales are part of the key economic indicators used by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Furniture is measured as an element in Advance Monthly Retail Sales, which states the “dollar value of sales of a broad range of goods, from cars and gasoline to furniture, food services, and clothing.”
The Commerce Department released retail sales data for January 2012 on Feb. 14. Total retail sales grew 0.4 percent from December to January. Excluding automobiles, January 2012 retail sales grew 0.7 percent.