Sorry about that….
It’s possible many of you are wondering why Home Goods Online hasn’t been all that active in reporting the news over the past few weeks. The reason is quite simple, yours truly suffered his second heart attack early in March and has spend the last few weeks recovering from the ordeal. I’m truly sorry to have been out of touch for this long.
As many folks throughout the Canadian furniture, mattress and appliance industry know, I suffer from a little seen type of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis. Simply put, it is a painful condition that affects the neck, spine and hips. I was first diagnosed with the condition about 30 years ago and it has progressed to the point where I can’t look up or turn my head either left or right. It has also left my spine and ribs totalled fused, giving me little in the way of lung expansion.
This disease progression is the direct cause of the two heart attacks I have suffered, the first being in 2019 causing me to miss the last ever Canadian Furniture Show – the first one since I first started making that journey to Toronto’s International Centre in 1987. Ankylosing spondylitis also means I can’t undergo most forms of surgery as I can’t be anesthetized. In turn this means I must be treated for congestive heart failure medically, which takes longer.
Let me apologise at this point for the long-winded explanation. I don’t have a shorter one. But I do have a promise to make. Over the next few weeks, I am going to do every possible to bring the important stories I’ve missed since my involuntary time away began to the electronic pages of Home Goods Online.
But I also want to take a moment to sing the praises of the men and women who toil on the front lines of the Canadian health care system. They are selfless, hardworking women (most of them are) and men dedicated to the welfare of those in their care. I grant you our health care system is flawed and plagued with numerous problems, not all of which can be cured with more budget dollars.
The rest of 2023 is going to prove challenging for the Canadian economy and this industry in particular. Housing, the most important driver of consumer demand for furniture, mattresses and appliances, is in the midst of the predicted post-pandemic slowdown. While those with a grasp of the economic realities of inflation concede the necessity of rising interest rates, its real-life impact on the consumer’s desire and ability to buy the product on our floors and web portals means a decline in sales, tightened gross margins and lower profits.
This will also have a negative impact on consumer confidence – the other important driver of consumer demand for big ticket home goods. In fact, the Conference Board of Canada recently reported some 63% of Canadian consumers believe now is not a good time to make a major purchase with only 11% holding the opposite few.
Has anyone noticed this industry no longer has a unifying national voice or event? This greatly troubles me. We don’t have a national trade association. The Canadian furniture, mattress and appliance sector doesn’t have a place to come together, to share ideas, celebrate excellence within it ranks or act as an advocate on its behalf on issues of importance.
For example, the U.S. government recently enacted legislation regulating how some categories of furniture are manufactured to prevent accidents, particularly involving children. Several American trade associations got involved in that discussion to ensure the concerns of their members were heard and met. Should Health Canada decide to follow suit, there is no one on this side of the border to speak on our behalf.
Over the coming weeks, HGO is going to reach and talk to people throughout the industry to get a sense of how they see the issues, what actions they would support and track how the market is evolving. If you have thoughts you’d like to share and advocate, send me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you’ll be here for the ride.