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Check out the Autumn edition of The Merchandiser

 1 November 2021     Michael J. Knell 

BRIGHTON, Ontario – The Autumn 2021 edition of the Merchandiser, now available, celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Brick, this country’s largest full-line furniture banner while shedding light on how retailers are coping the new latest protocols to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and taking stock of Canadian consumer spending on furniture, mattresses, appliances and other big ticket home goods over the past 18 months. And, to top things off, resident retail guru Donald Cooper offers insights into how to hire the best people, a topic of ever-increasing importance in this day of chronic labour shortages.

The places where consumers choose to buy furniture, mattresses and major appliances has been changing and expanding for decades now. Joe Carroll, the retired publisher of Furniture Today, once documented 75 distinct channels of distribution for furniture south of the border. And that was in the days before e-commerce became a force to be reckoned with.

It’s taken much longer than expected, but Statistics Canada has begun to track consumer spending on furniture, mattresses, decorative accessories and appliances as well as televisions and audio/visual equipment via the internet. Their current findings are discussed in great length elsewhere in this issue and are heartily recommended for study.

The numbers published in this edition of the Merchandiser, give credence to the warnings experts have been spouting for years. They also establish a clear trend. The power of digital specialists is clearly growing. It’s also clear the consumer is getting more comfortable in dealing with them.

As the report’s author, I have a few words of caution. While its work is professional and credible, Statistics Canada is also an innately conservative institution. For that reason, it is possible the sales volume attributed to what it calls ‘electronic shopping or mail order houses’ – what HGO calls ‘e-commerce platforms’ – may in reality be much higher.

I say this not just because there are gaps in the Retail Commodity Survey’s data but because of reports by other well-regarded sources such as the Globe & Mail documenting the achievements of digital retailers like Article and Both organizations appear to have higher annual Canadian sales than can be supported by the survey’s published findings.

But that doesn’t diminish the report’s importance. Retailers need to know where consumers are buying the product they sell. It also reinforces the oft-heard recommendation to even the smallest brick-and-mortar furniture store operator that to thrive, he or she must have a fully functional, transactional presence on the world wide web.

This issue also celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Brick, whose impact and influence on furniture, mattress and appliance retailing in Canada is often overlooked, either because of or despite its heft in the marketplace. There are a lot of things most store operators do every year because The Brick did it first.

The pandemic has also done more than impact the financial performance of retailers large and small. It also fundamentally changed the way they interact with the customer. We had the opportunity to talk with retailers across the country to get a sense of what the new protocols are by examining the answer to questions such as: does the consumer need to provide proof of vaccination before entering the store?

Finally, labour shortages have been very much in the news of late. To top off this issue, our resident retail guru – Donald Cooper – offers up insights into how to find and hire the best people to join your team.

I trust you’ll find this issue both illuminating and inspiration.  Click here to read.

Stearns & Foster
This HGO article was written by:
Michael J. Knell
Michael J. Knell

Michael is the publisher and editor of Home Goods Online. A seasoned business journalist, he has researched and written about the furniture, mattress and major appliance industries in both Canada and the United States for the past three decades.

The HGO Merchandiser
Autumn 2021
Autumn 2021
Summer 2021
Summer 2021
Spring 2021
Spring 2021
Winter 2020
Winter 2020

 View all editions of The HGO Merchandiser.

  About HGO

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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