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Confidence down in April

28 April 2017
By the Numbers

OTTAWA – After making gains in each of the prior two months, the Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence fell 2.3 points in April. This reflects increasing concern about housing affordability while expectations about future finances and employment prospects worsened. The balance of opinion on the major purchases question held steady.

The national index was 109.4 last month. It was set to 100 in 2014.

Last month’s survey was conducted online over a ten-day period beginning April 3 and included some 3,000 adult Canadians.

As has been the case in recent months, there have been noticeable regional differences in the index.

For example, British Columbia’s index fell 12% last month, which board economist Marc Desormeaux attributed primarily to deterioration in the balance of opinion on the major purchase question. “This could be due to renewed fears about housing affordability; survey respondents from the Greater Vancouver Area, which has seen the largest run-up in prices, were significantly less optimistic about purchasing a big-ticket item than consumers elsewhere in the province,” he noted in his report.

Consumer expectations about their employment prospects and their future finances also worsened in April, he said.

While its index showed a small increase last month, housing affordability continuing to weigh on the minds of consumers in Ontario. Desmormeaux noted there was much media attention paid to the provincial government’s effort to cool the region’s red hot real estate market. “Consequently, fewer GTA consumers felt that it was a good time to purchase a big-ticket item like a home or a car,” he said, adding, “since late 2016, the balance of opinion on the major purchase question has trended downward in the Toronto area while holding steady elsewhere in Ontario.”

Offsetting this was Ontario’s labour market, which has recorded full-time jobs gains in seven of the last eight months. “In April, this was met with more optimism regarding both current and future financial conditions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the index in Quebec reached its highest level since November 2007.

“The province’s economy is on a roll,” Desmormeaux said “Last year; Quebec experienced its best year of economic growth since 2010, and has now seen jobs gains in eight of the last nine months. The provincial government also tabled a third consecutive balanced budget and unveiled a series of new income tax cuts in late March.”

Quebec consumers also indicated their household finances were improving and that now was a good time to make a major purchase. “Expectations did not improve regarding future financial and employment conditions which was likely the result of the loss in full-time positions last month. Still, the balance of opinion on both questions has been trending generally upward over the last year,” Desmoreaux observed.

Confidence also fell in Alberta and Saskatchewan-Manitoba in April. In Alberta’s case, it fell after two months of increases in the index. “And although the province’s index remains depressed relative to historical levels, the Alberta index has seen steady gains over the last six months as the price of oil has stabilised,” Desmoreaux said.

The Saskatchewan–Manitoba index sits at a 14-month low after falling for the second consecutive month in April.  The board noted the balance of opinion deteriorated on all four survey questions in Saskatchewan, outweighing the positive effects of an improving labour market in Manitoba.

“This trend is expected to continue,” Desmoreaux said. “Manitoba’s economy is expected to perform well this year, but employment growth and crude oil production levels in Saskatchewan are not anticipated to pick up until oil prices return to more normal levels. As such, consumer confidence in the region is unlikely to improve significantly in 2017.”

The index for Atlantic Canada also fell – mainly because of pessimism about job prospects.

“This is an unsurprising result; the region has seen little in the way of job creation of late, and Nova Scotia is the only Atlantic province expected to see decent employment growth this year,” Desmoreaux said. “It appears that the job losses and shift toward more precarious, shorter-term work has been met with uncertainty about future financial conditions. Over the past year, increasing numbers of East Coast consumers have indicated that they expect their household finances to deteriorate in the next six months.”

However, on the bright side, the Atlantic Canada consumer has seen decent wage gains to date in 2017, fueling a generally upward trend in their opinions about current finances.

The Conference Board of Canada maintains a web site at conferenceboard.ca

Dodd’s opens Campbell River

25 April 2017
Furniture, Mattresses, Retail

CAMPBELL RIVER, British Columbia – Dodd’s Furniture & Mattress has opened its third store here in this picturesque community on the east coast of Vancouver Island at the southern entrance to the Discovery Passage. The move makes the family-owned firm the island’s largest independent furniture and mattress retailer.

Founded by Gordy Dodd in 1977, the company is perhaps best known not only for its founded wacky and funny commercials but for its sense of community service, something for which he was presented with the Quebec Diamond Jubilee Medal back in 2012.

His first retail space was only 2,500 square feet with Gordy Dodd acting as a one man show, displaying, selling and delivering the goods to his customers himself.

Gordy Dodd (centre) is seen here cutting the ribbon to mark the opening of Dodd Furniture & Mattress’s third store in Campbell River, British Columbia. Looking on at his immediate left is his son and company vice president, Love Dodd.Over the coming two decades, Dodd’s Furniture enjoyed solid growth and its flagship store in Victoria now occupies some 35,000 square feet. In 2006, the company acquired a 43,000 square foot warehouse before opening a second store in Nanaimo, the second largest community on the island, five years ago.

The company is still very focused on giving back. Love Dodd, Gordy’s son and vice president of the company, said his dad still passionate about giving back the support he was given when he started out.

“Everyone here is community influenced,” Love Dodd said. “We do a big cultural dance every year in Beacon Hill Park, and we support lots of local sports for kids. Gordy started a walk for peace that is now in its seventh year. He also goes to India twice a year, where he sets up a health camp to treat people who can’t afford basic medicine. We also started hosting Thanksgiving dinners here at home for low income people 17 years ago – and Christmas dinners seven years ago both in Victoria and Nanaimo.”

Such extensive community involvement plus a passion for customer service is what keep their customers coming back. “We see a lot of repeat customers,” Love said. “We’ve had customer loyalty since day one.”

Dodd’s has remained true to who they are both in the community and with the message they deliver to customers through their advertising, which strives to forge a personal connection with shoppers.

“Our customer service was always great because customers were dealing with Gordy himself, and people loved that,” Love Dodd said. “Then he started doing his wacky commercials, and that really brought Dodd’s to the forefront!”

Dodd’s television commercials have become famous locally and star Gordy as characters such as “The Wizard of Dodd”, “Hindiana Jones” and portraying such celebrity characters as Alex Trebek, Captain Kirk, Superman and John Wayne. And all of Dodd’s advertising was followed by the company motto; “We won’t be undersold!”

Last spring, Dodd’s joined the Dufresne Retail Solutions Group (dRSG), severing a 38-year relationship with Cantrex Nationwide.

According to group director Stephen Braniff, the group’s offer to retailers is based on the practises and procedures of Dufresne Furniture & Appliances that have evolved over its 30-year history.

“A different type of buying group, dRSG is owned, directed and managed by retailers, and is partnered with the biggest brands in the furniture industry, brands such as Palliser, Ashley, Defehr, Décor Rest, Superstyle, Best, Magnussen, Phoenix A.M.D, Tempur-Sealy, Beautyrest, Serta, Springwall, Whirlpool, Frigidaire and Electrolux,” he said adding, the group currently includes more than 135 independently owned and operated locations from coast to coast across Canada.

“Members network and share best practices to compete every day with the largest retailers in Canada,” Braniff said.

“The DRSG Team is the only buying group which completely understands the challenges faced by independent retailers against the growing numbers of big box stores,” Love Dodd said. “They have put the needs of the members as their number one priority and that’s why they are the fastest growing buying group, and on their way to the top.”

Campbell River may also prove to be a stepping stone for the company.

“We believe Campbell River and the northern communities of Vancouver Island needed a furniture business which understood the local needs of the economy,” Love Dodd said. “Given our long history here, community involvement, an understanding of the island lifestyle, coupled with our dRSG relationship and buying power, we feel we can deliver on those needs.

“We’d like to grow bigger,” he added, “and we’d like to have six stores by 2030. I see us on the path to growth, and I hope my kids (he has two daughters) get into the furniture business.”

Related Story: The Wizard of Dodd

Casper opens West Elm gallery

25 April 2017
Mattresses, Retail

TORONTO – Mattress e-tailer Casper has established its first physical presence in Canada, with an in-store gallery at West Elm, the higher-end subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma. Previously, the line had only been sold to consumers in this country online.

The gallery is located inside the West Elm store in Liberty Village here and since its opening a few weeks ago; it’s been a hit with consumers according to Nicole Tapscott, general manager of Casper’s operations in Canada.

The company believes e-commerce is less developed in Canada than in the U.S. so having a physical presence in this store presents an opportunity for consumers to see and experience the product before making the purchase, she added.

The Casper mattress gallery in the West Elm store located in Toronto’s Liberty Village.This is also the first time that the New York-based Casper has offered its product through another retailer on a cash-and-carry basis. In the deal signed with West Elm in the U.S. last summer, while its customers can make the purchase in store, Casper delivers the product to her home in the usual fashion.

West Elm also has stores in Calgary and Vancouver, but the Toronto outlet is the only one with a Casper gallery at this time. Tapcott has indicated more could follow, but gave no details.

In the spring of 2016, Casper hosted what it called its Canadian Nap Tour and brought its ‘Napmobile’ to all three cities, giving customers an opportunity to take a short nap in one of its beds in a portable ‘Snooze Room’ that was set up in various locations.

Last fall, the New York Post reported Casper was planning to open physical stores, based on help wanted ads on its website but the company hasn’t officially announced any such plans. But it has become something of a media darling and was named as one of the world’s most innovative companies by Fast Company earlier this year.

With backing from celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Adam Levine and Ashton Kutcher, Casper was launched in 2014 as a direct-to-consumer online mattress retailer, with its product delivered in a “how did they do that?” sized box.

The company’s memory foam mattress comes in most of the standard sizes and is priced between $725 and $1,275, depending on size.  It recently added several items to its assortment including a ‘perfect pillow’, sheets and even dog beds.

A leading trade publication in the United States has estimated Casper’s sales for 2015 at over US$100 million.

Dimplex unveils new line

25 April 2017
Furniture

HIGH POINT, North Carolina – Accent furniture and electric fireplace maker Dimplex North America has unveiled its largest product introduction ever at the spring edition of the market, which ends here this week.

In a statement, the Cambridge, Ontario-based said the launch was thanks to the “overwhelmingly positive” response it received to the new product concepts introduced at the fall 2016 High Point Market held this past October. It included dozens of designs ranging from traditional to boundary pushing.

Seen here is Dimplex’s new Tyson media unit, which appears to float on its distinguishing metal legs. Its cabinets feature a warm finish called Farmhouse Chestnut.“Dimplex is certainly recognised for having industry-leading fireplace realism,” Jane Bradley, director of marketing and communications, explained, “but we worked with several industry-leading designers to put a huge emphasis on creating exciting furniture. We want to provide our customers with lots of style choices and designs that are true centerpieces they can furnish an entire room around.”

No matter the style desired, or décor to be complimented, Bradley said the new offerings – which include about two dozen new pieces – cover the gambit from modern to traditional as well as rustic to industrial chic. A true contemporary piece to watch out for is the Christian media console. Housed inside a sleek metal cross structure, the cabinet and fireplace appear to float between the frames leaving plenty of open storage for electronics while also featuring concealed storage with soft closing doors.

“This unique design provides a contemporary focal point for any home, as a sideboard or entertainment console,” Bradley said.

If a dash of modern flair is added to a rustic design, the result is the Tyson media unit. Appearing to float on its distinguishing metal legs, the cabinets and open storage balance the design with a warm finish called Farmhouse Chestnut. “Whether your décor is eclectic, traditional or modern, the Tyson adapts to almost any space with charm and pizazz,” Bradley said.

Dimplex operates a showroom in suite 2308 in the Showplace building during the High Point Market. The company will also exhibit at the upcoming Canadian Furniture Show at the International Centre in Mississauga, where it can be found in Hall 1, space 1835.

Dimplex North America Limited is celebrating 25 years as a world leader in innovative electric heating and electric fireplace solutions in North America, offering a wide selection of residential, commercial and industrial products. The Dimplex commitment to innovation fosters outstanding research, product develop and design excellence.

Celebrating its 25th year as a supplier of electric fireplace solutions in North America, the company is a division of the Glen Dimplex Group, which is based in Dublin, Ireland. It maintains a second North American distribution centre in Indianapolis, Indiana.


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