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The best place to meet

15 July 2019
Events, Furniture, Mattresses, Retail

TORONTO – The crowds weren’t all that big at this year’s Canadian Furniture Show but those who attended were enthusiastic about their experiences walking the floor at the International Centre, as the viewer will see in the first in a series video reports Home Goods Online will post and promote over the coming weeks.

Here, HGO marketing director Corrie-Ann Knell chats with several people from across the industry – both attending retailers and exhibitors – about their impressions of the show and why they believe it remains important in the lives of the people who work in Canada’s furniture industry.

Click here to see Corrie-Ann’s video report.

Shannon Houff, the owner of Front Porch Interiors in Wawota, Saskatchewan, is enthusiastic about attending the Canadian Furniture Show.“I’m a retailer in Saskatchewan, excited to be at the show to see and learn new things,” says Shannon Houff, the owner of Front Porch Interiors in Wawota and author of a blog called That Girl Shannon. “There are beautiful things, I mean in Canada we are edgy, we like to bring in the new trends and colours, lots of things that just kind of make your room different.”

Elizabeth Betancourt, the brand ambassador for exhibitor Style in Form, a full-line resource based in Burnaby, British Columbia, was equal in her praise for CFS. “Its always great to connect with people we’ve known for many, many years and see people from across the country as well as connect with our retailer customers, stagers and decorators.”

Raffaele Laserra, assistant vice president of home furnishings for Cantrex Nationwide noted CFS is a great platform for simply meeting people. “It’s been a great experience,” he says. “I think we had an opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with our retailers, meet a lot of potential customers and also have a lot of good conversations with suppliers so I feel that it was a good show.”

Perhaps the best reasons for attending CFS are selfish ones. Retailers need to know what’s coming, so they can get there before the customer does.

“If you’re not here you’re not bringing in the new stuff that is needed to be shown to your clients in your stores. So, this is the place you get inspiration, this is the place you see what’s new and what your clients are looking for,” Houff says. “It’s kind of our job to let them know they don’t even know what’s out there, yet you know we have to be ahead of it before they find it in a magazine and come looking. If we don’t have it in our store, then we’re behind the game.”

The next edition of the Canadian Furniture Show will be held from 16 to 18 January 2020 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.

Related Story: The 2019 CFS market wrap
Related Story: Innovation steals the CFS spotlight

Home sales hold steady

15 July 2019
By the Numbers

OTTAWA – Home sales via its Multiple Listing Service (MLS) was essentially unchanged in June, according to the latest report from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). When compared to May, they slid a barely noticeable 0.2% but advanced an extremely modest 0.3% on a year-over-year basis.

The realtors’ group noted while national activity ran close to its ten-year average last month and was up almost 10% from the six-year low reach this past February, it remains well below the level recorded over much of 2015, 2016 and 2017.

CREA also observed there is an increasing divide between the regional markets across the country. June’s results were caused by an even split between the number of local markets were up and those where they were down. Larger gains were focused in Quebec and southern Ontario, which were offset by declines in a diverse mix of markets including the Greater Vancouver Area (GVA), Calgary, Halifax-Dartmouth and the province of Newfoundland & Labrador.

Chart courtesy of the Canadian Real Estate Association.Actual sales edged up 0.3% compared to June 2018, with gains in Greater Toronto (GTA) and Montreal offsetting declines in British Columbia.

“There’s a growing divergence in Canadian housing market trends between eastern and western Canada,” CREA chief economist Gregory Klump said in a statement. “While sales activity in Canada’s three westernmost provinces appear to have stopped deteriorating, it will be some time before supply and demand there becomes better balanced and the outlook for home prices improves.”

The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.8% in June, prompting the national sales-to-new listings ratio to ease to 57.1% in June from 57.7% posted in May – close to its long-term average of 53.5%.

CREA also reported there were five months of inventory on a national basis at the end of June 2019. While this is its lowest level since January 2018, this measure of market balance remains close to long-term average of 5.3 months.\

However, while national measures of market balance are close to their long-term averages, there are significant regional variations.

The number of months of inventory has swollen far beyond long-term averages in the Prairie provinces and Newfoundland & Labrador, giving homebuyers ample choice in these regions. By contrast, the measure remains well below long-term averages in Ontario and the Maritime provinces, resulting in increased competition among buyers for listings and fertile ground for price gains.

The actual national average price for homes sold in June 2019 was just under $505,500, up 1.7% from the same month in 2018.

The national average price is heavily skewed by sales in the GVA and GTA, Canada’s most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding them trims the national average price to just under $400,000.

In his research note, Rishi Sondhi of TD Economics, said the modest breather the market took in June was not all that surprising given the strong gains made in prior months, even though mortgage rates edged lower in the month.

“Moving forward, home sales will likely continue to trend higher in the second half, supported by a solid job market, strong population growth, low borrowing costs, further distance from past restrictive policies and supportive measures for first-time homebuyers,” he said.

He added CREA’s report caps a decent second quarter for housing activity, with sales rising 5% from their weather-impacted first quarter drop. This should give overall economic growth a boost and lays a good foundation for improvement in the second half of the year.

Related Story: Housing starts trend higher in June

Bedding grows at LVM

15 July 2019
Events, Mattresses

LAS VEGAS – Already established as the most important mattress and bedding trade event in the United States, the organisers of the Las Vegas Market (LVM) will not only expand the category but will introduce a dedicated destination for it at the upcoming Summer 2019 edition, which is scheduled to open for its normal five-day run on July 28.

The 13th floor of Building ‘B’ at the World Market Center here will become the category’s new home beginning with this market.

“This new destination on B13 will support growth by existing anchor tenants and provide buyers with a more cohesive category shopping experience while also addressing increased demand from new, expanding, and relocating bedding suppliers,” Scott Eckman, executive vice president of furniture and home décor for International Market Centers (IMC) said in a statement.

Made in California and set to debut at the upcoming Las Vegas Market, Dreamcloud is an affordable luxury mattress, combining eight layers of premium materials including gel memory foam, a cashmere blend Euro top and a micro coil support system. Available in all sizes and with either static or adjustable bed frames.According to its web site, LVM currently hosts some 153 sleep-related resources including mattress manufacturers as well as bedding accessories.

The organisers said with new tenants and expansions, B13 will include more than 70,000 square feet of showroom space, making it a comprehensive shopping resource for the bedding and mattress industry.

Two exhibitors will be relocating and making significant expansions on B13: Ergomotion, a manufacturer of adjustable bases, in B1380; and Malouf, a supplier of pillows, sheets, mattress protectors, bed bases and mattress toppers, in B1350 for January 2020 market.

In addition to these B13 newcomers, floor anchors include Leggett & Platt in B1326, Nectar Sleep/DreamCloud and Level Sleep in B1365, and Corsicana Mattress Company in B1300.

Additionally, new and expanding bedding resources can be found across campus. Two bedding companies opening showrooms in time for the Summer 2019 edition include: Culp/eLuxury /Culp Home Fashions, a supplier of a wide range of mattress and upholstery fabrics across the globe, on B9; and NCFI Polyurethanes, a manufacturer of spray and flexible polyurethane foam, on C15.

A few mattress manufacturers have renewed their commitments to the event, including King Koil on A5; and Symbol Mattress, a producer of mattresses with state-of-the-art material handling systems and upholstery equipment, on C15.

In addition to these debuts and renewals, Las Vegas Market will feature several other top bedding companies this summer, including Ashley Sleep; Englander; Kingsdown; Kluft; Restonic; Serta-Simmons Bedding; Tempur-Sealy; and Therapedic.

There are several Canadian mattress and bedding producers exhibiting at the market. These include Marshall Mattress (B922), which was acquired earlier this year by The Flex Group; Blu Sleep (B960), the mattress and pillow maker based in Laval, Quebec; Cannabed (C1565), the Toronto-based producer of mattresses made from hemp; and, Cabinetbeds (B220-12), of Abbottsford, British Columbia, a producer of beds in a birch cabinet.

Mattresses are also part of the line-up offered by full-line resource Primo International (C1412) of Montreal. Other Canadian bedding resources showing include sofa bed specialist Sealy Sofa Convertibles (B1028) and Calgary-based technology specialist XSensor (C1579).

The summer edition of LVM runs from July 28 to August 1.

Related Story: 51 Canadians to show at LVM
Related Story: LVM dates set thru 2023

Nine ways technology helps

15 July 2019
Retail, Opinion

Clients around the world keep telling me running a business today is ten times tougher than it used to be. In many ways, they’re right. We all have more demanding customers, more and stronger competition, increased complexity, shrinking margins, not to mention the challenge of attracting and keeping top talent. So, in some ways running a business is more challenging than ever. But in many ways running a business today is easier than ever before. It’s all about ‘technology’.

As you look to technology to give you the competitive advantage you need, it will be useful not to lump technology into one big confusing mess, but rather to examine how technology can help you in each specific area and function of your business.

Sit down with some of the best minds in your business, or department, and use the nine-point checklist below to explore the possibilities. Seek expert help. Every business should have one or more trusted technology ‘heroes’ to keep them ahead of the pack.

So, here’s your checklist of where technology can bring you the competitive advantage you need. Make a list of each one that has possibilities for you – then investigate, decide and do. A few of these possibilities may not apply to your business but most will.

  1. Technologies that will help design and create new and better products and/or services.

  2. Technologies that will help produce and operate more efficiently and with higher and more consistent quality.

  3. The technologies of logistics that will more quickly, efficiently and accurately deliver products or services to existing customers – and perhaps to a wider customer base.

  4. Technologies that will improve the speed, quality, depth, breadth, individuality and consistency of the service and experiences you deliver.

  5. Technologies that more efficiently communicate your compelling value message to customers as a group and as individuals.

  6. Technologies that allow you to listen to, understand, engage with and respond to your customers as a group and as individuals.

  7. The equipment, systems and process technologies that allow you to operate, control and manage every aspect of your business more effectively.

  8. Technologies that help you operate in a more environmentally responsible, less wasteful and more sustainable way.

  9. The technology of researching best practices and emerging new business models. This one is easy. It’s called Google, which can be used to study competitive web sites; find articles of interest; discover who in your industry – worldwide – is doing innovative new things; and, what disruptive new business models could become your new worst enemy.

So, there you have it. Nine ways technology can help create a competitive advantage in every part of your business. What will you do with this and when? Do you have a technology ‘hero’ or two who constantly coaches and challenges you to get ahead and stay ahead?

Here’s something else to think about:
Could you get along without the internet? It’s estimated about 3.5 billion people (half of the world’s total population) are still unable to access the internet.

LinkSure Network, a Chinese company, is planning to launch 272 satellites over the next eight years to deliver free internet access across the globe.

Eating out takes a bigger share of our food budget. Even with the huge popularity of cooking shows of all types on television, Business Insider reports eating out now accounts for 43% of the annual food expenditures for families, on average, in North America. Perhaps many people spend more time watching cooking shows than they spend actually cooking.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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