Retail roundup: Dealers seek to finish the year on a high note

Home Inside FCNews Retail roundup: Dealers seek to finish the year on a high note

September 5, 2016; Volume 31, Number 6

By Reginald Tucker

As the summer comes to a close, retailers are already looking to the fall selling season and beyond. After the rollercoaster ride of the first three quarters, many dealers are feeling optimistic that 2016 will end on a high note.

Dan Mandel, owner of Sterling Carpet and Flooring in Anaheim, Calif., described the first eight months of 2016 as “evolving.” He is confident the industry has stabilized and expects that growth will continue. “We are optimistic that the rest of this year will be strong and our forecasts for next year look very promising as well. We want to keep this going for as long as we can.”

Mandel is counting on hot products to contribute to that growth. From a category-specific standpoint, he has seen a major shift from soft to hard goods. “Our business has really changed this year, and we are focusing more on luxury vinyl plank and engineered wood than ever before. With this shift from carpet we have seen some significant growth.”

Other retailers are banking on the strength of the high end of the market to carry them through. In fact, that has long been the winning formula for dealers like Phoenix-based Baker Bros. “We have always had the reputation that we are a high-level service company, and we pride ourselves on the high caliber of our employees and the quality of our installation crews,” said Phil Koufidakis, president. It’s that reputation in the market, he says, that allows him to charge higher prices for his goods and services. “We simply cater to better clientele and we carry better products and the most relevant brands.”

One of those killer categories is area rugs. In each of Baker Bros.’ seven locations—all of which average about 10,000 square feet—the bulk of the space is dedicated to the category. “We carry in excess of 4,000 area rugs in our stores,” Koufidakis said. “You really don’t see that in the specialty retail category anymore.”

The “bigger is better” strategy is also paying dividends for Nebraska Furniture Mart, whose primary stores span 450,000 square feet. In an economy that’s still recovering, its stores still manage to pack them in. “For us we’re kind of a destination location, so we pull in people who are 100 miles for support,” said Dave Snedeker, divisional merchandise manager. “We’re aggressive on the Internet and we competitively shop 38,000 SKUs on the Internet every day to make sure we’re the lowest price out there.”

Over on the East Coast, high-end retailers are also enjoying the spoils. A.J. Boyajian, co-owner of A.J. Rose Carpets & Flooring, with three stores in Massachusetts, said business has been very strong in New England during 2016. “We are very busy and seeing solid growth both residentially and commercially. That has been the case the last several years. We are hoping the rest of the year and beyond continue to grow the way they have been the last few years. We are hoping we aren’t approaching a bubble and things will slow down. Hopefully we can continue this solid momentum to finish the year and into 2017.”


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