High Point in High Demand

Visitors of the High Point Furniture Market walking across the street to their next location.

To say the High Point Market is a staple of our city would be a huge understatement. In fact, Market has been making a name in High Point for more than 100 years. At this point, it’s woven into our city’s identity. In fact, when Market was canceled due to COVID-19 this past spring, it was the first time a market has been canceled since 1942 when World War II put a pause on High Point Market.

So what does a year without High Point Market mean for the furniture industry? It means our favorite Market buyers and exhibitors have a lot of catching up to do this fall! We wanted to find out just how important High Point is to the furniture industry (especially this year), so we sat down with Ken Smith. Ken is one of the founding partners at Smith Leonard Accountants and Consultants, an accounting firm that has partnered closely with High Point Market over the years, and has the insights to measure what kind of order demand Market is seeing.

Downtown High Point shot with several people in business suits walking and wearing surgical masks.

For starters, Ken says that the demand for products at High Point Market is much higher than normal. Smith Leonard quoted new orders in June 2020 were up 30% of what they were in June 2019. And new orders were up for 73% of the High Point Market participants.

“Numbers have been inflated by pent up demand,” Ken explains. “People haven’t been able to shop High Point Market in 12 months."

Ken notes that on trend with the June numbers, July, August, and September numbers for demand have been unusually high as well. Because not only has there been more time between High Point Markets this year, Ken and other Market experts are noting one big common denominator in the high demand for new products: quarantine.

“There’s no question that quarantine has had a lot to do with the increased demand,” Ken says. “If you’re working from home, and you sit around all day on a bad sofa or in a bad recliner, you notice. If you’re home all day, and see your furniture in the light, you start to see flaws.”

So many customers around the country have been taking the money they’re not spending on dining out, entertainment, bar tabs, cleaning services, and vacations and headed to furniture retail stores to start that quarantine home makeover. But with the 12-month gap in High Point Market, many retailers are in desperate need for new product. Ken even notes reports of retailers who had to sell their showroom floor samples to meet demand and are now faced with the deficit of an empty showroom.

“If a retail store hasn’t been updated with new product and the old product is stale, it’s a turnoff to customers,” Ken says. “Retailers need to be able to talk about what is the latest and greatest in furniture this year.”

And where do retailers come to find the latest and greatest? High Point Market. Because not only is High Point Market the place where exhibitors can sell new product to retailers, but it’s also where trends are tracked and relationships are built between exhibitors and retailers.

Woman in a yellow dress sits beside a table with cleaning spray. She is sitting inside a showroom with furniture samples. In the background stands a man with a suit and a mask on.

That’s why High Point Market Authority has taken the last six months to ensure that every last detail is secured to host High Point Market safely and efficiently. Because the bottom line is the furniture industry needs a market, and High Point continues to maintain its reputation as the best place to host the Market – even in the face of COVID-19.

“Given High Point’s layout over 13-city blocks in various different buildings, we are uniquely positioned to be able to follow all of the outlined safety guidelines and still offer the in-person buying interactions our industry desperately needs at this time,” says Tom Conley, president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority. “We are also geographically positioned well, with a large percentage of the industry living close or within driving distance.”

Ken also points out that High Point has advantages to social distancing and safety factors that many bigger cities couldn’t control or change, like transportation and dining services.

Group of men in business attire walk across sidewalk into a sliding glass door. Two women stand and sit on either side of the doors waving. All are wearing masks.

One woman is scanning a another woman's forehead for a fever using a forehead thermometer.

“You don’t have to worry about getting in some overloaded bus here,” Ken says, noting how the City of High Point and High Point Market Authority have worked together to develop custom transportation options at reduced capacity for Market guests. “Compared to some of the bigger cities... High Point can do Market in a safe way.”

To make safety the top priority, the High Point Market Authority has partnered with officials at the city, county, and state levels to produce the safety plans that will be implemented this Fall Market. And thanks to the Market Authority’s longtime relationship with High Point’s local hospital, Wake Forest Baptist Health will be providing many onsite medical services for Market guests.

In many ways, High Point is not only the best candidate to host Market from a retail perspective, but also from a logistics and safety perspective given our size, experience, and unique layout. It’s always been High Point Market Authority’s goal each season to provide the safest, smoothest experience for our Market guests. If you want to learn more about High Point Market Authority’s plans and features, visit their site. We are wishing each of Market guests, industry friends, and High Point staff a happy and safe Market!

Keep discovering our High Points,

The HP Discovered Team

Images Courtesy of High Point Market Authority