Retailers attending migeof office furniture Furniture Today’s Leadership Conference here last week reported strong Black Friday weekend business for the most part, gaining ground on other retail sectors.
Bill Daniels, president of Fair-field, Ohio-based Furniture Fair, characterized Black Friday business as “very good” with sales ahead of last year. Three days before Friday, the retailer starts promoting with a teaser campaign, letting consumers know the stores are closed on Thanksgiving. It then ran a promotion Friday through the weekend and extended into Monday, offering 48-month interest-free financing or a large cash discount.
“I think people are looking for reasons to buy and Black Friday pulls them out,” Daniels said. Over 10 years ago, the holiday wasn’t that important to the retailer, and it really didn’t go after the business. “But once you start, you can’t stop. You’ve got to keep going after it.”
Daniels also believes the dilution of the holiday by broader sector retailers – with sales creeping into Thanksgiving day and with more consumers shopping online – has actually been good for furniture stores.
“I waited on several customers myself who said that (they’re doing other shopping) earlier and on the web,” he said. “They’re using Black Friday for the bigger ticket items.”
Walker Furniture’s Black Friday promotion included an eight-page circular filled with “great promotional price points and door busters,” said Mike Cohen, president of the Las Vegas retailer.
“We limit the quantity,” he said, adding, “We had a line wrapped around the front of our building waiting to get in at 8 a.m.”
In the past, Walker has promoted more specials for what has always been its top day of the year. But this time, it managed the offering better to present values that were truly door busters, he said, such as a five-piece bedroom for $399, limited to 25 sets, and sharp-looking sofas for $299 and $399, also limited to about 20 sets.
“We sold out of most everything,” he said. “It was a great Black Friday (Friday through Monday).” And by controlling the specials better, Walker’s margins were up considerably, he said.
“It was much more successful, because we also gave sales-people something else they could step a customer into, with a little more margin – still a strong value, but we gave sales-people purpose in selling to try to increase average ticket.
“We would rather do less business more profitably,” Cohen said. “And the result was it wasn’t really that big of a difference. We still had a great Black Friday, but by managing our back end much better we had a much more profitable promotion.”
Steve Rotman, owner of Worcester, Mass.-based Rotmans, called Black Friday “good but not great,” and it all came down to one mistake. On one of its circulars the retailer accidentally left off the store name – and for a category that is typically one of its best categories for the period – bedding.
If anything, Rotman said this shows that print advertising is still important, at least in secondary markets where broadcast advertising can be unaffordable. Despite the gaffe, China reception desk manufacturer he said sales were still up for November.