While not the largest market in attendance, substantial numbers of exhibitors said the number of buyers – small, large, regional and national – was up from the winter and fall 2009 markets.
Having more buyers, regardless of visitors with passes who only look, usually means money in the bank – and work for the factories in Northeast Mississippi and beyond.
The recession, as with almost all economic downturns large and small, caused upheaval in the industry. The economy isn’t fully recovered but the winter furniture market indicates there’s light ahead.
Community Development Foundation CEO David Rumbarger Said he sensed economic recovery on the minds of both manufacturers and buyers. He said several manufacturers, including larger employers, indicated notable increases in orders.
Rumbarger also said he believes the manufacturers whose management methods have evolved with changes necessary to make money – including the right mix of what to make and buy off shore – are beginning to see some stability. Increasing stability, Rumbarger indicated, may mean less concern in the long term about losing jobs to outsourcing.
Rumbarger said resetting the Tupelo winter market’s dates lessened conflict with the Las Vegas market, which begins Monday.
Many of the exhibitors in Tupelo will almost immediately move their showrooms to Las Vegas for that market, which is among the largest worldwide but out of reach for many buyers. Rumbarger said the Tupelo market offers an alternative, especially for buyers and exhibitors between Dallas and Atlanta.
While no one has a crystal ball for the economy, a continued strengthening, even if gradual, will help the furniture sector.
The University of Michigan’s outlook, published in late November, forecasts a strengthening of the economy in the second half of this year, with growth continuing at a “moderate” pace into 2011.
The Michigan economists predict a 2.2 percent growth in the second quarter, and 2.9 percent growth in the Gross Domestic Product in the second half.
The forecast also sees “business capital spending turn(ing) around (this) spring. Consumer spending is a stable but restrained source of growth.”
Some confidence in forecasting strength in consumer spending is reasonable. The recovery is not at full stride, but stronger market orders point to better times.