Scores of vendors and retailers packed the showrooms of the Tupelo Furniture Market, January 4-7 to show off and find the 2018 trends.
From bolted canvas to wicker, many styles could be seen at the show. Materials like natural stone, colored glass, stainless steel and distressed paint were popular materials for décor. Antique metalwork and glass combine with Southern distressed, and some decidedly farmhouse pieces were on display.
Tammy Harris, owner of Harris Wholesale Furniture based in Grand Prairie, Texas, said last year was the season of natural materials. Linen fabric chairs, natural colors, and raw wood sold well last year. Harris said the reclaimed look with industrial elements were the bestselling products. The shop also sold a few unique glass and polished wood accents that nearly sold out at The Winter Market.
“They’re all going to look a little bit different because they’re handmade, but we’ve already sold three and a few others by the same artist,” Harris told the Carreon Daily Journal.
Dow Canup’s family started in the wholesale flower industry 50 years ago when his father opened Tremont Floral Supplies in Tremont. Today, Canup has branched out with his own business, Kingston Casual Furniture, based in Madison, Ala., which featured samples of outdoor furniture pieces at the market.
A significant number of furniture retailers have said gray sold best last year from furniture to furnishings. Gray upholstered sofas, living and dining chairs, and headboards were heavily displayed.
In 2018, Canup said the French farmhouse country look is going to continue to be a hot trend. “It’s an indoor look that’s gone outside, and also the (Fixer Upper star) Joanna Gaines movement has driven that look,” Canup said.
Millennial business is another factor that will continue to affect furniture retailers as that demographic group buys homes at high rates this year.
Jason Etheridge of Corinthian Furniture said his company has seen a trend in the last 12 months of more Millennial business.
Canup said as Millennials are starting to buy their own homes, they want a modern twist on furniture. Pieces that are transitional sell best, a piece such as a simple chair with a modern, sloping arm for example, and that preference includes outdoor furniture.
Jay Quimby, executive vice president of sales at United Furniture said formal furniture for dining, living and bedrooms have dropped by about 30 percent in buying patterns. Quimby said traditional pieces didn’t sell as well last year, as consumers look for furniture that meshes with a more casual and transitional lifestyle.
“One of the biggest trends we see…is that most homes today are open floor plans, so consumers, whether they are millennials or any other age group, are looking for products that are all married in,” Quimby said.
Online retail is another area many furniture retailers are breaking into this year.
Don Lefort, owner of Tupelo Furniture Direct, said he is shrinking back his brick-and-mortar store this year to expand the company’s online presence.
“It’s what everybody’s doing…online retail is hot, but it’s very unprofitable the way people are doing it,” he said.
Etheridge said online retail is only about 10 percent of sales in the furniture industry, but customers are more technology savvy, and will do product research online prior to in-store shopping.
“I do think there is some effect on the normal everyday brick-and-mortar guy…one thing we have noticed is that the consumer today does research products because of the technology available, so I think they’re more informed today,” Etheridge said.
Overall, Quimby said customers bought products based on good construction and quality material last year, with some brand reassurance.
“I see value leading the charge at whatever price point that is, people buy what they can afford…the American consumer is definitely more knowledgeable then they ever have been, they can research what goes in the furniture and they understand the construction story, so when they go into a retailer, they’re much better educated, and they know what they’re looking for,” Quimby said.