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Ray’s Ramblings: Market Is Over, So What Now?

Now that the dust has settled from this week’s furniture market, word on the street is that the market did exactly what it is supposed to do—allow buyers and sellers to meet, greet, buy and sell furniture, bedding and accessories.

From where I sat and from what I saw and from those I spoke with, the market was better than many had predicted.  For the record, market today is far less about feet on the street and more about written business.

Just about every exhibitor I spoke with confirmed that observation and confirmed that this market was clearly about the quality of the buyers here, not the quantity.

So, who were the winners by the end of the show?  Clearly, the winners were those retailers who came with a purpose and those exhibitors who invested the time, money and energy to develop new product.

While some exhibitors came to market with nothing new and others decided to stay home, there were scores of companies like Jackson/Catnapper who rolled the dice and unveiled 16 new introductions.

Jackson’s bet paid off handsomely, in part, because many retailers admitted that they had not changed their assortments for the past two years thanks to Covid.

And now, the big story will revert back to logistics, supply chain issues and what it will take to get the product to retailers—and that means trucking.

I found it ironic that in the middle of market, President Biden held a press conference to talk about—you guessed it—the trucking sector.

If memory serves me, late last year his team talked about a 90-day plan designed to get the trucking industry out of first gear, which it said would that the curtain has come down on the In December, the White House announced a 90-day plan which it said would improve the trucking industry and help untangle the supply chain, but many trucking executives say not much as improved.

Making matters even more challenging since that announcement, there has been the issue of Ukraine being invaded by Russia and subsequent diesel pricing reaching their highest levels in almost 30 years.

So, last week’s dog-and-pony-trucking show featuring President Biden and his Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg highlighting all the progress being made in the trucking sector honestly left me stalled on the side of the road.

The White House suggested that the time slot between last December and February of this year was the best 90-day period for hires of long-distance truckers.

While that might have been true, the most recent jobs report indicates that the trucking sector actually lost almost 5,000 jobs between this past February and March.

Clearly, the challenge of driver shortage is still very much with us and until that problem is solved, inventory is simply not going to get to retailers as quickly as it needs to.

A recent chart from the American Trucking Association clearly paints the picture.

Driver Shortage Update 2021

There are a host of solutions being touted and tested—everything from lowering the age of drivers, bringing in drivers from other countries and even incorporating robotics and self-driving technology.

All interesting, some perhaps more viable than others, but all still way down the road from solving the driver-shortage issues.

Even so, we should all be thankful for a market that exceeded the expectations of many.

New product is coming but for right now, we are still playing the game of hurry up and wait.

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