COVID-19 – Casual Living Just another Furniture Today Sites site Tue, 25 Aug 2020 21:13:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 COVID-19 – Casual Living 32 32 Sunset West launches virtual Las Vegas showroom Tue, 25 Aug 2020 20:52:29 +0000

Sunset West is launching an interactive, 360-degree virtual tour of its 5,000-square-foot Las Vegas Market showroom.

Hosted by Matterport 3D, the tour will give designers and retailers not present at Las Vegas Market a chance to view and learn about Sunset West’s latest product offerings on any web-enabled computer or mobile device.

Using Matterport 3D’s technology, visitors will be able to naviagate the showroom and zoom in on specific product they are interested in. Collections and items of note are tagged in the tour with a link to their respective page on the Sunset West website, where users can learn more about the product details and specifications, as well as download tear sheets.

To celebrate of the new virtual showroom, Sunset West will be offering a live, guided tour hosted by Wes Stewart, founder of Sunset West, at 2 p.m. EST on on Aug. 26. During the tour, Stewart will discuss Sunset West’s color stories and collections, new product arrivals, and share the latest in outdoor trends and what’s on the horizon for the category. To register for the event, click here.

The self-guided tour will live on Sunset West’s website after the kickoff event. There, users will also have digital access to product information and the Sunset West catalogue.

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Outdoor designs, designers flourish during pandemic Mon, 17 Aug 2020 21:55:25 +0000

Consumer lifestyle shifts stemming from the COVID-19 virus are proving a boon to the home furnishings industry, and nowhere is this more evident than in the outdoor design arena. With consumers in some parts of the country confined to their homes just as the outdoor season was kicking off, the category saw activity increase dramatically.

And while the pandemic forced many full line furniture and specialty stores to close their doors early on, the design community’s ability to work remotely and one-on-one left designers well-positioned to capitalize on consumers’ intensified interest in revamping their outdoor spaces. As a result, outdoor design projects have proven fertile ground for designers looking to satisfy clients who are trading vacations for staycations or just looking to upgrade their outdoor room.

Home furnishings overall has seen a lift this summer as consumers’ increased time at home has fueled desire to refresh their living spaces. Additionally, the shift of discretionary spending away from experiential activities like restaurants, cruises, theaters and sporting events, most of which have been closed to accommodate social-distancing requirements, has freed additional dollars for home-related spending.


Outdoor redesigns have enjoyed the added benefit of providing an escape from feelings of home confinement and are serving as a safer alternative for those still wanting to entertain while accommodating recommended social distancing guidelines. “With COVID-19, the fresh air and being outside is more beneficial than being inside with a bunch of people,” designer Barclay Butera told Casual Living. “The outdoor space is becoming more and more important.”

“The pandemic has served as a hard reset for everybody,” explained designer Libby Langdon. “That means moving to simpler things, such as being outside and enjoying time with friends and family. Who knows what will happen in the fall? We may only be able to meet up with friends and family six feet apart.”

According to designers, the pandemic is helping to shape clients’ backyard design choices as they look to escape the stresses of reduced or constrained social engagement and a fraught economic and political climate. Many are seeking a backyard oasis, a quiet place of rest and retreat that mirrors the experience of their favorite resort or vacation getaway.

This is translating into designs with more neutral palettes and subdued patterns as well as themes that harken back to safer, simpler times. “My new fabrics speak to this and are more neutral, peaceful,” said Butera. “It’s about creating a more comfortable environment.

Even where there is color, it’s a pale steel gray-blue, and I’ve got a Palm Spring look that’s very retro and harkens back to the 1950s and ’60s. Bright colors are very distracting right now because your mind is going all over the place.”


Functionally, outdoor designs are incorporating features and functions that are blurring the lines between indoor and out even more than they have in recent years. This includes bringing more electricity into play and even creating outdoor spaces that go beyond their indoor counterparts.

“We’re seeing an uptick in outdoor kitchens,” said Langdon, who is currently working on a project that includes an outdoor pizza oven. “And I think people are now looking to the fall as well and realizing they can extend the season with heaters or fireplaces. People have never really thought about spending a lot of time outside in the fall, but I think that’s going to change this year.”

With many customary expenses coming off the family budget as a result of activities that are no longer available, at least for the moment, designers say consumers are choosing to invest those dollars into better furnishings and other upgrades to their outdoor rooms.

“We’ve added technology that makes the space more user friendly and more comfortable, as well as better and more luxurious furnishings,” said Ryan Hughes, owner of Ryan Hughes Design Build. “We’re seeing more fun water and fire features, and kitchens have become way more elaborate.”

Hughes explained that his business model is built around full-service design that includes pools, landscaping and other backyard built-ins. So it’s not uncommon in this environment for his clients to add things such as life-size chess boards and beach volleyball courts, all amenities that are helping people realign their lifestyles around less travel and more home-centered entertainment.

Langdon added that one new area that she’s seeing this year is outdoor exercise. With many gyms continuing to be shut down as a result of local pandemic-related regulation, clients are looking for new ways to accommodate their exercise routines, and she noted that even as they begin reopening this could be an important new area for outdoor design.


One of Libby Langdon’s current outdoor projects includes individual product selections and notes on furnishings placement.

All this renewed design activity is not coming without changes to the process, however. Traditional consultation methods have undergone as much renovation as clients’ backyards, with Zoom and other teleconference platforms often replacing face-to-face meetings, and even site visits and in-person consultations being conducted with a new emphasis on social distancing.

“Zoom has been wonderful, and a lot of people are fine talking with us that way,” said Diana Apgar, Decorating Den’s 2020 Designer of the Year. “We still have to make appointments and go there sooner or later, but we’re wearing masks and gloves to measure and look at the spaces. And we’re always going to have to do that.”

One of Libby Langdon’s current outdoor projects includes individual product selections and notes on furnishings placement.

She and others noted that there is, and will continue to be, a need for consumers to touch and feel select products, and the goal going forward is to create processes and conditions that allow clients to feel safe while still getting the interaction with product that they need. Designers also pointed out that, unlike in retail selling environments, a significant portion of their work is repeat projects and referrals, which often means that clients have already established a level of trust and comfort with their designer.


One area where designers are facing the same constraints as their retail counterparts today is inventory availability. While the shutdowns initially left many manufacturers with inventory on-hand from cancelled or delayed retail orders, the flood of consumers back to retail once stores reopened has left manufacturers struggling to refill pipelines and bring previously shuttered or scaled-back manufacturing capacity back up to speed.

“The biggest challenge right now is merchandise availability,” said Langdon. “Placing orders we’ve had the challenge of having to replace or re-source several pieces.”

Despite the challenges, designers near universally say they expect sales this year to meet or exceed those of last year, despite the short-term disruptions early in the season. And one of the keys to that has been the stability of the housing market. Decorating Den’s Apgar noted that unlike 2008, which saw the

industry and the economy dramatically impacted by a steep decline in the housing market, the challenges this time are of a different, and to date more manageable, nature.

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NRF asks senators to support Healthy Workplace Tax Credit Fri, 24 Jul 2020 15:30:26 +0000

The National Retail Federation urged the Senate earlier this week in a letter to approve legislation that would create a new tax credit intended to ease the cost of safety steps taken by stores and other workplaces during the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation, introduced Monday by Senator Rob Portman, would establish a refundable tax credit against payroll taxes for 50% of costs incurred by businesses for COVID-19 safety measures like testing, personal protective equipment, disinfecting, extra cleaning and reconfiguring workspaces. The credit is limited to $1,000 per employee per quarter for a company’s first 500 employees, $750 for the next 500 and $500 for each employee thereafter

“It is essential that we bring our economy back by ensuring that the consuming public is safe to shop again and that the retail associates that assist them are safe as well,” said David French, NRF senior vice president for government relations, in the letter. “The Healthy Workplace Tax Credit will go a long way to provide some additional liquidity for making the necessary investments in our stores and workers.”

This new measure is similar to legislation introduced in the House last week by Representative Tom Rice, which the NRF supported, and the NRF has requested that the tax credit be included in a comprehensive coronavirus relief bill currently being drafted by House and Senate leadership.

Safety is “retailers’ top priority as stores reopen during the pandemic,” according to the NRF, and the group began calling on retailers earlier this month to adopt a nationwide policy requiring customers to wear face coverings, but that does not come without a price. Mid-size retailers have told NRF the cost of safety measures can be as high as $1 million a week. Face masks alone are reportedly costing $30,000 a day for a 30,000-employee retailer.

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Atlanta Market ups digital offerings, makes publications interactive Fri, 24 Jul 2020 12:25:10 +0000

Atlanta Market is adding new features to its interactive digital toolbox to support buyers before, during and after the Aug. 13-18 Atlanta Market.

The Atlanta Market Remote page – available at Americasmart’s site– will act as a digital hub for discovery, sourcing and shopping featuring a new Atlanta Market publication, Catalog Connexion, and a digitally accessible magazine, Atlanta Market Magazine. Additionally, the site will host a variety of other educational and market planning resources.

To support social distancing and in support of buyer sentiments, all market educational programming is being presented online for the market. Recordings of the nearly 30 webinars presented to date are already available on the Atlanta Market Remote page with more than 10 sessions set to be presented and posted before the market.

“Physical meets virtual this summer for Atlanta Market,” said Dorothy Belshaw, IMC’s chief marketing and digital officer. “With the COVID-19 crisis disrupting Atlanta Market, we are tapping our proprietary digital tools to pivot to an in-person and online hybrid that will present a robust buying and selling experience for our buyers and brands. These digital tools are not a replacement for the scheduled in-person market but serve to enhance the experience.”

The Atlanta Market Remote webpage also proves trend features and a comprehensive listing of showrooms open either physically or virtually for the summer market. Atlanta Market’s temporary exhibitors are included in online listings, too, despite cancellation of the trade show portion of the market this summer due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Virtual shopping through Catalog Connexion and Shopzio

Expansion of Catalog Connexion and integration with ShopZio – two digital tools powered by IMC_di, IMC’s recently launched Digital Innovations division – allows buyers to source and shop whether they are meeting in person or online this summer.

Catalog Connexion will launch Aug. 5 and provides product sourcing and discovery opportunities via a keyword-searchable library of brand catalogs from showrooms and temporary exhibitors in every market product category. The intuitive system allows suppliers to easily leverage their existing catalog assets to showcase full product lines and enables buyers to visually source across brands and easily request product information. Through integration with B2B e-commerce platform ShopZio, buyers also can directly purchase select products from the Atlanta Market Catalog Connexion and through ShopZio, which boasts 1.5 million more SKUs available for purchase through ShopZio.

The Atlanta Market Magazine is also adding interactive elements for its summer 2020 publication. The 230 page guide offers interactive trend reports with clickable ads that connect readers with videos, catalogs and contact information for brands. Available during the market session, the Atlanta Market Buyer’s Guide also will feature these elements

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National Hardware Show cancels 2020 event Fri, 17 Jul 2020 20:34:56 +0000

Following several months consideration the National Hardware Show (NHS) has decided to cancel its rescheduled September event this year out of concern about the impact of COVID-19.

In lieu of its traditional in-person event, the NHS plans to host a virtual trade show later this year dedicated to “providing education and support that recognizes and addresses the direct and essential needs of the hardware industry” using its year-round digital platform, NHS Connects, according to a release. The NHS event was originally scheduled to run May 5-7, but had been postponed in March to Sept. 1-3 to allow time for the impact of COVID-19 to be better understood.

“The hardware industry has been greatly impacted by the global pandemic and hundreds of our international exhibitors have been forced to cancel their plans to participate in NHS due to market conditions and continued travel restrictions”, said Randy Field, Group Vice President, Reed Exhibitions. “Following the May postponement, we prioritized making NHS Connects the place for the hardware and home improvement community to come together to source information.  It will soon be where connections, direct appointment setting and virtual product showcases will debut.”

Looking forward, Rich Russo, industry vice president of the NHS, said that they are rethinking the future of their in-person events.

“We are passionate about providing new options such as NHS Connects and look forward to continuing business virtually and creating innovative experiences for when we can hold an in-person event in 2021,” said Russo. “We are re-imagining the entire physical trade show, so look forward to new initiatives, new pavilions and neighborhoods, and a complete transformation of NHS for 2021.”

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Spoga+Gafa cancels 2020 event, reschedules all future shows Thu, 09 Jul 2020 20:03:41 +0000

Spoga+Gafa organizer Koelnmesse, an international trade fair group, is permanently moving the date for the show’s 2020 event to May 30-June 1, 2021 to account for COVID-19 concerns and industry demands, according to a release.

Looking forward, officials with the show said this change will impact fair dates going forward, placing the fairs future dates in June, during “a time more convenient for orders by large segments of the industry.” Spoga+Gafa, which primarily serves and works with the garden industry, said in a release that the change was made in close cooperation with the garden-lifestyle industry and put a focus on that group’s needs as the show simultaneously prepares for continued global growth.

“The aim of our conversations with the industry is to work together to give a strong trade fair a chance to gain even more strength and market relevance,” said Oliver Frese, Koelnmesse’s chief operating officer, on the change. “The focus here is on the ordering behavior seen in many parts of the industry, which has evolved over the years. In order to do an even more effective job of taking this into account, starting next year, Spoga+Gafa will be held permanently at the end of May or the beginning of June.”

In addition to the date change being undertaken to meet industry needs, Frese also said the change is being made out of concern over safety and travel in the midst of COVID-19. News about new cases of infection in Germany, where the show takes place, coupled with changing travel restrictions, had already impacted the attendance level of the show, originally scheduled for Sept. 6-8. According to Spoga+Gafa, a large majority of exhibitors and buyers had expressed that they would no longer be attending, despite the show implementing an extensive #BSAFE4business safety program.

To keep up with information about the future dates of the show, visit Spoga+Gafa’s website.

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5 questions with Lloyd Flanders’ Bryan Echols Fri, 12 Jun 2020 20:32:40 +0000

For more than a century, Lloyd Flanders has produced high-end outdoor furnishings in their Menominee, Michigan, facility. Known for their Lloyd Loom woven designs, the company offers a wide range of not only woven product, but aluminum, teak and other materials. Lloyd Flanders’ domestic manufacturing model has allowed the company to offer a level of versatility and customization that has made its products a favorite among both dealers and interior designers, particularly since the tariffs have come into effect.

We recently caught up with Lloyd Flanders’ Vice President of Sales Bryan Echols—a veteran of the outdoor industry—to talk about how the company works with its dealers, what full-line retailers should know about the casual category and which trends to keep an eye on for outdoor.

Casual Living: How does Lloyd Flanders work with full-line retailers to be successful with outdoor?

Bryan Echols: Lloyd Flanders has a long history of working with full-line retailers, and we have many successful partners in that category. When we first began working with full-line retailers, we realized that many of them had a different buying methodology than many of our patio accounts. They were more accustomed to anchoring samples to their floor and encouraging their customers to special order products. Our early success with the full-line retailers was a result of our adaptation of the original early buy programs that required larger initial buys and selling primarily from inventory. Over time, we have continued to use and morph our display programs and stock-buying programs to be more in harmony with their business philosophy. The Lloyd Flanders rep teams are also integral to our success by educating the sales force of the full-line retailers on our products, the demand of the outdoor environment, the opportunity that has been created by the maturation of the outdoor room concept and the unique materials that are used in outdoor furniture.

CL: What are some of the most important things for full-line retailers to keep in mind when adding/expanding outdoor on their sales floor?

BE: First and foremost, this is a category that has a much broader selling season that many people realize. Many people have been conditioned to believe that the selling season for outdoor furniture is over on July Fourth or Labor Day, but we continue to have orders beyond those time frames in all parts of the country. Our full-line retailers that have been the most successful are accessorizing the outdoor displays to the same level as they do their indoor displays and devoting prime spots on their retail floor.

CL: What advantages can Lloyd Flanders off er dealers because of their domestic manufacturing?

BE: Lloyd Flanders’ domestic manufacturing has been a benefit in the past, but with recent events, the advantage is even more pronounced. Domestic manufacturing provides our dealers consistent lead times to minimize their back-up inventory needs, completely tariff-free goods and the ability to provide 20 different frame finishes with over 700 fabric options.

CL: What kind of training do you have available for full-line salespeople who might not be as familiar with selling outdoor?

BE: Our training is directed by our rep teams, who work with the individual salespeople in the store. The trainings involve knowledge of Lloyd Flanders product, introductions to the sales materials and providing a knowledge of the digital assets we have available. In cases where the full-line salespeople are completely new to the outdoor business, we also spend time with frequently asked questions, key items for added attention concerning the outdoor room and help in recognizing sales opportunities.

CL: What’s one big trend in outdoor you think full-line retailers should keep an eye on?

BE: The trend to keep an eye on is uniqueness (not revolutionary, but important). Retail consumers are reporting that it is becoming harder to tell the difference in the outdoor furniture that they experience, which has led to a feeling that there is a “sea of same” out there. Full-line retailers can benefit from their expertise in display to create unique combinations of materials and especially mixing mediums within the collection. The more unique, the more it is going to stand out to the consumer and lead to success. The outdoor space is becoming more crowded by the minute with many companies focusing on the tried and true frame colors and styling. While this is understandable from the company standpoint, the consumer is hungry for those displays that stand out as unique and ones that they can see themselves enjoying in their own space.

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Hear from a legal analyst about your options during the COVID-19 crisis Thu, 09 Apr 2020 20:13:14 +0000

Join our Editorial Director Bill McLoughlin as he talks with Jerry Cohen, senior partner at Cohen Tauber Spievack & Wagner P.C., who shares insights on the most critical legal questions facing companies today. From handling employee issues to leasing and supply chain disruptions, Cohen offers best practices to help leaders avoid pitfalls and protect the long-term health of their businesses.

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ICFA COVID-19 survey reveals retailer concerns Fri, 27 Mar 2020 21:04:27 +0000

Nearly all International Casual Furnishings Assn. (ICFA) members responding to a survey fielded last week by the trade group are expressing deep concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business this year.

Although participants reported only one known case of coronavirus among employees at the time of the survey, 72.8% of the executive respondents noted their companies had already been negatively financially impacted by the pandemic. While smaller companies, those with one to four employees, were most likely to have long-term viability concerns due to the coronavirus, nearly 40% of the 101 executives surveyed still expressed “mild” concerns.

“This is an evolving situation,” notes one retailer in their response. “Last week we were still busy, but this week, it’s deadsville. People are starting to take social distancing seriously and if everything is shutting down around the world, it’s going to have a domino effect on our industry in getting and selling products to people who are not shopping right now.”

Nearly all retail and manufacturing executives anticipate the virus will impact their day-to-day operations for the next two to three months, with more than half (53.4%) already experiencing delays in getting product and materials from suppliers.

“As we all know, the situation across the country is changing on an almost daily basis,” says Jackie Hirschhaut, executive director of the ICFA. “Given the fast-moving nature of this ongoing crisis, with more governors each day ordering heavier restrictions on businesses in an attempt to flatten the curve, we intend to field a follow-up survey in another week or two.”

Currently, the survey finds that companies involved in retail and those who provide services to individuals are struggling the most, in large part because of widespread restrictions on openings and movement. Many businesses were already in the midst of staff reductions last week, with 45.7% reporting moderate reductions, and another 17% characterizing staff reductions as major. Nearly a third of the dealers surveyed were also working to trim expenses with major reductions in advertising spends, including 34.5% noting moderate reductions in advertising. Retailers were also scaling back technology spends with 20% making major reductions, and another 23.7% reporting moderate reductions.

More than half of the retailers surveyed expect that the virus will have a “very negative impact” on revenue this year, with 49% anticipating at least a “somewhat negative” impact. In an effort to curtail some that negative impact, many companies are changing up their routines.

Nearly all companies surveyed reported taking new actions due to the coronavirus, ranging from increasing the availability of hand sanitizer (73%), cancelling large group activities (70%) and instituting employee distancing policies (67%). Additionally, some 40% of companies surveyed were instituting at least partial work-from-home mandates.

“It’s important to stay focused on business,” notes one respondent. “We can’t change what is happening around us, but we can change how we react to it.”

The ICFA’s research, completed by Industry Insights, was fielded from March 16-18.

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Sunvilla donates surplus face masks to senior care facility Thu, 26 Mar 2020 16:58:57 +0000

Sunvilla Corp. has donated extra face masks to Story Cottage, a care giving facility for seniors with memory impairments, that was facing shortages in the wake of COVID-19

Indiana-based Story Cottage, noted for its home-style living and low patient-to-caregiver ratio, will use the donated masks to keep both caregivers and patients safe throughout the pandemic.

Sunvilla is continuing to manufacture and distribute outdoor products during the COVID-19 outbreak. The safety of the company’s employees is being maintained through work from home efforts, skeleton crews, social distancing and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment like masks.

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