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Furniture Moves Forward: Sector Sees Post-Recession Growth

Certain sectors of the furniture industry benefited during the recession. Casual and outdoor furniture saw increased sales because people were spending more money on their homes rather than on vacations, according to Michael Hudgens, Southeast Regional Manager of CIT Trade Finance at CIT Group Inc., (NYSE: CIT) cit.com, a leading provider of financing and advisory services to small businesses and middle market companies. This topic, among others, is discussed in “ Furniture Moves Forward: Sector Sees Post-Recession Growth,” ( cit.com/hudgens), the latest in a series of in-depth executive video Q&As featured in the award-winning CIT Executive Insights video series (cit.com/executiveinsights).

Pent-Up Demand Driving Sales

As markets improve and many Americans regain confidence in the economy, furniture sales will see a lift. “In 2012 the furniture industry grew almost double the rate of the overall economy,” said Hudgens. “We think that was due to pent-up demand. Also, as the housing market improves, the furniture business will continue to see increased sales.”

Opportunities and Challenges

The challenges facing the industry now include determining where sales will come from and how to make it, such as adopting e-commerce strategies. Another problem is how to serve the 25-35 year-old demographic. “People in that age category really don’t want their parents’ furniture and see these products more as disposable versus durable,” said Hudgens. “This is what many furniture companies are trying to solve right now, and this is both a challenge and an opportunity.”

Issues Facing the Industry

The top three issues facing the furniture industry right now are rising costs, the consolidation of the customer base and securing financing. “Whether you are a domestic manufacturer or an importer, labor is scarce and expensive,” said Hudgens. “Secondly, retailers have consolidated from independent retailers to chain stores and then big box retailers. Lastly, when the housing market collapsed, furniture sales did as well. As a result, several banks and lenders pulled away from the furniture market, making financing difficult for businesses to secure.”

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