Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Earlier this week I visited a small segment of what was the International Gift Show—called NY Now these days, “tradeshow for the home, lifestyle and gift market”—highlights of which I’ve covered in past posts. I thought I’d form an impression of whether or not same sex marriage has impacted this industry’s products, color and design, but I stopped taking notes when I learned that there wasn’t a NY Now catalog to be had in the Javits Center: They’d run out–a first. OK, so everyone else studies their tablets. I miss my printed catalog, a wonderful resource.
Instead, I brought back to the office a stack of trade magazines. I’ve always had a weak spot for paper goods and Stationery Trends’ summer 2015 issue, the first one I opened, didn’t disappoint. I appreciated the hand of the cover, the stock on which it was printed, the layouts and many of the graphics of the featured cards such as one by Egg Press, “you’re my cup of tea,” photo at right, chosen to illustrate the article, “A Kinder, Gentler Navy.”
From the other issues I learned a lot about what is going on at retail, the economy and why.
Warren Shoulberg, [photo right, below], is one of the best writers, thinkers and speakers in the industry. In his opinion piece in HFN’s August 15 issue, the magazine’s editorial director covered retails’ rediscovery of outlets. After reviewing outlet history, he reported that today TJX is “outperforming virtually every other retailer in America.” [It owns TJMaxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods.] He warned that the format isn’t foolproof and mentioned the now defunct Loehman’s, Filene’s Basement and Conway. [I don’t know Conway, but to be fair the first two had long runs.]
Shoulberg wrote, “what drives this channel is the pursuit of the bargain, not necessarily the bargain itself.” To make his point, Macy’s shoppers, he observed, can enjoy similar deep dish discounts if they add up all available coupons and promotions.
In his commentary in Home & Textiles Today, Shoulberg, who is editorial director here as well, explained why the home textiles and furnishings businesses are faltering: fewer new households. And why is that? College grads “and other 20-somethings are increasingly moving back into—or never leaving in the first place—their parents’ homes.” Shoulberg cites Pew Research Center findings that this situation is the worst “in recent memory” including the Great Recession. This reason, he wrote, has more impact on sales of these categories than housing starts or any other. He suggested that “If the kids are back home, that’s where the industry needs to be, too.”
He doesn’t have enough to do so Shoulberg’s also a contributing columnist at Gifts and Decorative Accessories where he advised that industry to become, like others, i.e. “more highly concentrated.” He continued, “But maybe, just maybe, there are economies of scale when companies get together and join forces.” Business-wise he’s right, but I long for a burgeoning 21st Century Arts & Crafts Movement, which the most exciting and creative aspects of this industry represent. Professionally and personally there are few places I enjoy visiting more than a wonderful craft fair—and the NY Gift Show—I mean NY Now.
In her LDB Interior Textiles editorial, Wanda Jankowski reports on a major shift in attitude regarding consumer spending in this country: Since 2008, the editor-in-chief wrote, “US consumers have learned to defer product gratification and accept that they can have something they want only if they figure out how to pay for it.” Good for us, not so good for retail.
In Nicole Leinbach Reyhle’s article, “What You Need to Know Now About The Upcoming EMV Changes,” in Museums & More, I learned that credit card fraud in the U.S. is around $8.6 billion/year and that experts expect it to increase to $10 billion this year. EMV, according to Google, “is a technical standard for smart payment cards and for payment terminals and automated teller machines which accept them.” Not good, though valuable, news.
What trade or specialty magazines—online or printed—do you follow? In making business or personal financial decisions do you take seriously the impact of the trends and developments such trade pundits share? Do you think what they write about their industries has significance well beyond them?