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The Most Interesting Furniture News of the Second Half of 2016

As the $96 billion home furnishing industry grows year over year, it is important to stay on top of news influencing its success. The following items were among the most important announcements made at the beginning of 2016’s second half.

Ashley Furniture Announces Its Outdoor Collection

ashley furniture logoAshley Furniture released a statement to Furniture Today detailing plans to launch an outdoor collection in 2016, following several years of research. The company’s Outdoor by Ashley line was unveiled during the Las Vegas Summer Market, giving industry professionals a first look at its 15 room settings highlighting the company’s ability to offer stylish, affordable furniture. The collection itself was led by Andy Sokol, an industry expert of 33 years now serving as the brand’s vice president of merchandising for outdoor furniture. Under his guidance, Ashley Furniture created outdoor seating, dining sets, umbrellas, and fire pit chat sets.

The United States Department of Transportation Grants Millions

Recently, the Georgia Ports Authority received $44 million in grant funding through the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation grant, overseen by the US Department of Transportation, will go toward expanding the inland Port of Savannah, thus improving rail capacity and reducing highway congestion. The project, known as the Port of Savannah International Multi-Modal Connector, is expected to span five years. The overall budget, including the $44 million, totals $128 million. In addition to shifting more transportation of containers from trucks to rail, the International Multi-Modal Connector will attract more business for the state’s ports.

Sales Almost Rebound after Three Months

According to an article published by Furniture Today, the home furnishings industry struggled to obtain new orders between February and April of this year. Orders fell each month, with April recording the most since 2015, at 3 percent. While May did not indicate a phenomenal recovery, the 2 percent increase, recorded by Smith Leonard in its Monthly Furniture Insights Report, does place the market back in line with orders from the year prior. The number represents all respondents to the survey. Individually, 69 percent of respondents reported a decline in orders.

Synchrony Financial Continues Its Partnership

dining roomIn 2011, Synchrony Financial worked with Ashley HomeStores to develop a financing program that has since become a successful resource for boosting sales and revenue for the enterprise. The Ashley Advantage Credit Card offers special financing options that make it possible for consumers to purchase home furnishings and bedding, according to the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the financial organization. In fact, the statement is supported through the Synchrony Financial 2015 Major Purchase Consumer Study, which researched the reasons and ability for buyers to buy large items. The study concluded that nearly half of individuals made a purchase because financing was an option. The primary reason correlated to affordability. Having experienced success with the credit card, Synchrony Financial has agreed to extend its consumer financing program agreement with Ashley HomeStores. The multi-year extension will impact more than 480 stores in the United States.

A New Trade Show Selects Its Advisory Council

Set to debut June 7, 2017, the Home Furnishings Manufacturing Solutions Expo will highlight warehousing and manufacturing resources as well as logistical and technology services catering to home furnishings manufacturers, a niche that has not been filled as of yet. To aid in hosting a successful inaugural event, Progressive Business Media and the Exposition Development Company, Inc. has enlisted the expertise of industry professionals to make up its advisory council. Companies in the group include representatives from Best Home, American Home Furnishings Alliance, and the California Furniture Manufacturers Association. The council will shape content shared throughout the event, from the topics discussed to the speakers hosting breakout sessions.

China Remains a Leading Supplier

Despite headlines stating China is struggling from labor shortages and factory closures, the country stays ahead in the home furnishings industry. Furniture Today shared the news in July, highlighting the country’s 38 percent growth in overall furniture shipment. To the United States alone, China transported $13.7 billion in residential furnishings in 2015 and shipped more than half of wholesale furniture stateside. The reason for the success stems from the country’s role as home of one of the largest upholstery manufacturers in the world, Man Wah, and case goods conglomerate Lacquer Craft. Man Wah exports approximately 4,500 containers of goods at a single time. Lacquer Craft produces upwards of 500 containers monthly, which go to stores such as City Furniture, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Art Van.