Just as one of the more popular quotes going around these days is that “A good crisis should never go to waste” we are also hearing people saying, “The good times are about to end,” as they are feeling that the pandemic-induced boom in home furnishings will soon be over.
Leave it to the home and gift industry to find the dark lining to every silver cloud.
None of this is to suggest the pandemic and Covid haven’t been absolutely horrible with the losses of life, our everyday lives and the way the world works. But the truth is that home furnishings has been one of the industry sectors to benefit from all of this. Now the worry is that as vaccination rates climb and we all start venturing outside again the boom will turn to bust. But there are those who say, relax, don’t worry.
One of them is Laura Alber, the CEO of Williams Sonoma, parent company to its namesake kitchenware brand as well as Pottery Barn, West Elm and several other retail nameplates. The company has done well under pandemic conditions with 70% of its revenue coming online in its fourth quarter. Selling bread makers, blenders, dec pillows and outdoor furniture has been a good combination for the retailer.
But Alber, in announcing the company’s good fortunes earlier this month said there’s still more to come. She said the outdoor furnishings business will continue to climb as people start to invite friends and neighbors back into their homes. More so, she said the overall entertaining segment will be very strong, especially for the fourth quarter holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. After we all missed gathering together in 2020 the demand to do so in 2021 will be enormous.
Maybe we won’t see the massive double-digit gains some home businesses recorded last year but to think it’s all going to suddenly end is not realistic. Yes, more money will go back into travel, eating out, vacations and social activities like sporting events, entertainment venues and cultural activities like museums. But home will continue in the mix Alber says and I agree.
It was so unlikely that the home business did so well in such bad times. But it is highly likely it will do nearly as well in better times too.
Award-winning Journalist & Consultant for the retailing and home furnishings industries with extensive business media experience in both fields.