How the Recent Stimulus Will Affect Furniture Retailers
One of the many measures used to counteract the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been direct economic stimulus payments to millions of Americans. While the amount received by each person or family depended on variables like income level and number of dependents, the vast majority of Americans received multiple payments during the pandemic.
For many, those payments were essential just to keep up with the bills that have piled up since the start of this event. The pandemic has left many people out of work or out of business, so these payments have been a badly needed lifeline.
But that’s not the case for everyone. For those who didn’t have their income impacted, the payments are simply a financial boost. As a result, it’s likely some of that boost will be passed on to furniture retailers who have been struggling right along with so many other sectors.
An Extended Struggle
It doesn’t require any advanced analysis to understand why furniture retailers have struggled during the pandemic. Initially, many stores were forced to close for a period of time. Then, even when they opened, those stores faced restrictions on how they could do business – and they were selling to a market with an unsure financial future. Consumers tightened their wallets and purses, spending on anything non-essential slowed to a trickle.
Another issue is the in-person nature of furniture shopping. While other retail sectors leaned even harder into the world of e-commerce, that’s not such a natural transition for furniture sales. Most consumers want to sit on the couch before they buy it, or feel the quality of the table and chairs. When you add it all up, the recipe for an ugly year in the furniture business was complete.
A Long-Awaited Boost
It’s important to remember that all of those people who would have made a furniture purchase in the past year are still looking to replace old pieces in their homes. That need didn’t disappear – just delayed. Now that stimulus payments have landed in millions of bank accounts, the time is right for a big boost.
As a good sign that a sizable jump in retail furniture sales is on tap, we only need to look to the last round of stimulus payments. The Furniture and Home Furnishing sector of the retail economy jumped 12% in the aftermath of those payments, and that round of checks was smaller than the latest version. As larger payments combine with the world moving ever closer to the end of the pandemic, it seems certain that retailers will enjoy a powerful resurgence in the weeks and months to come.
Furniture retailers need to be ready to take advantage of the boost provided by the stimulus payments. As a starting point, having ample inventory available is a great way to capture business while the market is hot. If too many items are not available for a long period of time, some customers may turn elsewhere. While many businesses ran very lean through the heart of the pandemic, now is probably the time to start stocking up wherever possible.
Also, it’s important to make sure safe business practices are in place and that all local regulations are being followed. Although vaccinations are well underway, this public health event has not yet ended, and many areas still have strict rules in place. Following these rules properly will not only keep you on the right side of enforcement, but it will also help make customers feel safe in your store. With plenty available to sell, and an appropriate model for operations in place, now is the time to make up for some of what has been lost over the past year.
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